Choosing someone to pray for the New Year, a 16th-century pirate would not be the likely choice. But the prayer of Sir Francis Drake (http://www NULL.rmg NULL.co NULL.uk/drake) (c. 1540-1596) is reverent, eloquent, and inspiring.
Calling Drake a pirate might be a little strong; privateer might be a better term. Drake had been commissioned by England to attack and plunder Spanish ships, which made him a pariah in Spain but a hero in England. In 1577-79 he became the second man to circumnavigate the globe, for which Queen Elizabeth I honored him with knighthood. When war broke out between Spain and England in 1585, Drake sailed to the New World and pillaged several Spanish ports. This led King Philip II of Span to plan an invasion of England, but the invasion was cut short when Drake, serving as vice admiral in command of the English fleet, drove back the Spanish Armada in one of the most decisive naval battles of all history.
But there’s more to the story of Sir Francis Drake. He grew up, the eldest of twelve children, in a strongly Christian family and was a firm and zealous Christian throughout his life. Believing in the “just war” doctrine, his Christian beliefs did not preclude him from serving as a sea captain in time of war, but even in battle and while raiding Spanish ships and villages, he tried to keep the loss of life to a minimum. And more than four centuries after his death, his famous 1577 prayer inspires us as we face new challenges and adventures in 2013:
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.