Prayer of Francis Drake

Several months ago someone sent me the 1577 prayer of “England’s most famous sailor and explorer,” Sir Francis Drake. A quick check of Wikipedia revealed that this swash-buckling privateer (a private ship owner authorized by the government to prey on foreign vessels during a time of war) was never a candidate for Anglican sainthood. Nevertheless his circumnavigation of the world on his vessel The Golden Hind remains one of history’s great records.

But it is his prayer—found in his ship’s diary and composed on the eve of one of his grand ventures—that I find particularly moving, especially on this Sabbath when our pulpit series, “The Radicals,” comes to its conclusion. It seems the right prayer for “this generation” called by God to spiritually conquer every continent and nation of this world for his kingdom.

So brood with me over the prayer—and let your heart be stirred by the intrepid Spirit of Christ himself, who is calling you and me to sail the seas on his behalf for this generation that desperately needs him.

The Prayer of Francis Drake

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.