November 12, 2019

Mary Harwell Sayler : How public is the public domain?

Mary Harwell Sayler : How public is the public domain?After publishing the Book of Bible Prayers, which I’d collected from many translations of the Bible and prayerfully paraphrased (prayer-a-phrased) into everyday English, I became aware of the need for another version of the prayer book in KJV only. For many people, the King James Version is the only Bible to read. 

In recent decades we thought of this beloved version as being in the public domain and, therefore, can be quoted as much as we like if we acknowledge the source. But is that 100% true? Not quite!  [Find out more on]

November 5, 2019

The prayer of Hagar: God sees!

Year after year, Abraham and Sarah waited for the child God had promised to them, but when nothing happened, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Sarah offered her Egyptian maid to her husband as a means of having a child, and Abraham obliged!

Once Hagar knew a baby was on the way, she treated her mistress with contempt. This undoubtedly burdened Sarah even more, knowing she’d failed to give Abraham a child, while her maid had not.

With Hagar’s haughtiness more than Sarah could bear, she, in essence, gave her husband an ultimatum. Abraham responded by telling his wife to do as she pleased. Sarah did. She treated Hagar so harshly, the woman ran away.

As Hagar wandered alone in the wilderness, an Angel of the Lord appeared and  told her she would have a son, whom she was to name Ishmael. Meanwhile, the Lord wanted Hagar to return to her mistress and be respectful to Sarah.

Realizing she was not alone and the Lord was with her, Hagar expressed her joy and relief in this brief prayer that speaks for us too.

Genesis 16:13 – a prayer of Hagar

You are EL Roi!
You are the God Who sees me!
You watch over me.

Paraphrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, in the Book of Bible Prayers.

November 1, 2019

Prayers of Abraham

When God called to him, Abraham heard and responded, “Here I am, Lord.”  When God asked him to intercede for a man he had wronged, Abraham obeyed.

This patriarch of God’s people is lauded as an example of true faith and closeness to God, but few of his actual prayers have been recorded.

Genesis 15:2

O Lord God, what will You give me?
Will I need an inheritance
if I have no child?

Genesis 17:18

Oh, that my child
might live in Your
presence, Lord,
and be under Your

Genesis 18:23, 32

Lord, would You really sweep away
the righteous with the wicked?

What if ten honorable people
are found?

And God answered:

For the sake of ten,
I will not destroy the town.

Paraphrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, in  the Book of Bible Prayers.

October 18, 2019

The blessing of Melchizedek - a blessing also for you!

In collecting prayers for the Book of Bible Prayers, I focused on actual prayers prayed by real people who lived in Bible times – people who pleaded, whined, praised, asked, expressed thanks, cried real tears, complained to God, and interceded for others – just as we do today!

According to early chapters of Genesis, people began to call on the Lord a couple of generations after Adam and Eve, but (maybe because they couldn’t write yet!) we don’t know what the actual words were. (Probably, “God, help!") Those references to prayer have generally been omitted, and so have most of the many, many blessings that laud God but don’t talk directly with or to the Lord.

A few blessed exceptions have been paraphrased as blessings that speak to God rather than about Him (for example, the high priestly prayer of Aaron.) However, in the case of Melchizedek, the king-priest’s words to Abraham remain as the first recorded blessing, appropriately beginning the Book of Bible Prayers.

Genesis 14:19-20 – the blessing of Melchizedek

May you be blessed by God most High,
maker of heaven and earth.

May you be blessed by God most High,
Who has delivered you from the hands
of those who wish you harm.

Prayerfully paraphrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, for the Book of BiblePrayers – a single volume for you to pray with “prayer partners” among God’s people, regardless of the hour, day, or year! If the book blesses you, please say so in an Amazon review. If not, please write me personally and tell me! Either way, thank you. God bless.

September 30, 2019

Praying with Abraham for our children

Abraham, the great patriarch of three major religions, talked with God often, but the Bible records very few of his actual prayers. Here’s one we, too, might pray for our children.

Genesis 17:18 – a prayer of Abraham

Oh, that my child
might live in Your
presence, Lord,
and be under Your

paraphrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019
from the Book of Bible Prayers: actual Bible prayers 
collected and prayer-a-phrased from God’s Word

September 24, 2019

Bible Prayers: forgive us

Almost every church family prays the Matthew 6 version of the “Lord’s Prayer” aka “Our Father” with regularity, unity and only one notable difference. i.e., When we get to verse 12, some say, “Forgive us our sins,” while others pray, “Forgive us our trespasses” – a word that doesn’t appear in the prayer itself but in the next two verses.

I like that word choice, however, because, from childhood on, I’ve seen “No Trespassing” signs and understood what they meant. Conversely, the idea of a debt wasn’t clear until much later, and, even now, “sin” is an abstract word that’s hard to envision, difficult to clarify, and open to interpretation.

As prayers for the Book of Bible Prayers came together, they remained in the order they appear in most translations. Then, each of those prayers was paraphrased into every day language with one exception – the Matthew 6 version of Jesus’ prayer as recorded in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible:

Matthew 6:9-13 – a prayer of Jesus

“Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.”   

In King James' day, a "debt" may have been a particularly big deal as people sometimes wound up in debtors prison! 

Besides the beautifully poetic and powerful lines in Matthew 6, a lesser known version of the Lord’s Prayer has been paraphrased below as it appears in the prayer book but can be easily found in your favorite translation of the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 11:2-4 – a prayer of Jesus

Father in heaven,
may Your Name
be kept holy among us.

Bring us into Your kingdom.

Give us bread for the day.

Forgive us
as we forgive those who
have wronged us.

Keep us from temptation.

Deliver us
from a time of hard trials.


MarySayler, ©2019

September 20, 2019

NEW! the Book of Bible Prayers

After decades of researching what the Bible has to say about prayer and buying a bunch of prayer books that weren’t quite what I wanted, I felt led to collect the actual prayers in the Bible then prayer-a-phrase (prayerfully paraphrase) them into THE prayer book I personally want and need. If you do, too, you’ll be happy to know the Book of Bible Prayers is now available on Amazon.

With the gathering of these prayers, I saw things I’d never before noticed. As the Foreword notes, for example, “The prayers in the Hebrew scriptures (aka Old Testament) are frequently pleas, praise, thanksgiving, complaints, and petitions, but in the New Testament such requests or responses are less likely to occur. Instead, Paul and other apostles typically ask believers in Christ to pray for them. Or, more often, they offer parental blessings over the Christian communities they’re addressing. Similar to the priestly blessing of Aaron in Numbers 6, these New Testament blessings are directed toward the people rather than God, but I felt I would be remiss to exclude all of them, so a few of those blessings have been prayer-a-phrased as prayers."

An exception is the prayer of Melchizedek, which remains the blessing given over Abraham and now over us!

“May you be blessed by God most High,
maker of heaven and earth.

May you be blessed by God most High,
Who has delivered you from the hands
of those who wish you harm,”

Genesis 14:19-20.

That blessing also brought another surprise: i.e., It’s the first prayer-blessing recorded. Prior to that, we had God’s blessings over all creation in Genesis, and by the time of Adam and Eve’s grandson, we hear how “All people began to call on the Name of the Lord.” But it’s the actual prayers spoken to God that bring us this prayer book.

Lord willing, I’ll post a prayer from the book with some regularity on this site with the hope and prayer the Book of Bible Prayers will bring unity to the Body of Christ and more power to your prayer life and mine.