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A One-Word Christmas Prayer for You

Pray it for those you love and those who will be missing from this year’s celebration.

One-word prayer for Christmas
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One of my favorite Christmas traditions is a prayer that suggests a single word—a word that dominates all my other Christmas prayers. 

I pray it and post it on my daily prayer blog every Christmas Eve. It was originally a prayer of a young Italian seminarian named Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli in 1902. But it’s been my prayer for many years now, and it goes like this:

Night has fallen; the clear, bright stars are sparkling in the cold air; noisy, strident voices rise to my ear from the city, voices of the revelers of this world who celebrate with merrymaking the poverty of their Saviour. Around me in their rooms my companions are asleep, and I am still wakeful, thinking of the mystery of Bethlehem.

Come, come, Jesus, I await You. . . 

I am a poor shepherd; I have only a wretched stable, a small manger, some wisps of straw. I offer all these to You, be pleased to come into my poor hovel. I offer You my heart; my soul is poor and bare of virtues, the straws of so many imperfections will prick You and make You weep—but oh, my Lord, what can You expect? This little is all I have…I have nothing better to offer You, Jesus; honour my soul with Your presence, adorn it with Your graces. Burn this straw and change it into a soft couch for Your most holy body.

Jesus, I am here waiting for Your coming. Wicked men have driven You out, and the wind is like ice. I am a poor man, but I will warm You as well as I can. At least be pleased that I wish to welcome You warmly, to love You and sacrifice myself for You.


Obviously, Jesus came to a stable in Bethlehem many years before either Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli—who later became Pope John XXIII—or I prayed those words. But in another sense, as the prayer acknowledges, He comes again at our invitation. So that’s my one-word prayer throughout December: Come. 

It can be yours too. Pray it for those you love: “Come.” For those you celebrate with: “Come.” For those missing from your celebration: “Come.”

Pray it as you awake: “Come.” As you lie down to sleep: “Come.” As you tuck someone into bed: “Come.” 

Pray it for this needy world: “Come.” For your nation: “Come.” For your community, church and home: “Come.” 

Pray it when you don’t know what else to pray: “Come.”

Pray it when your heart is heavy: “Come.” Pray it when your mood is light: “Come.” Pray it for your confusion, disappointment, worry and fear, weakness and weariness: “Come.”

Pray it often. Just one word, but say it, whisper it, think it, as perhaps the most fitting Christmas prayer ever: “Come.”

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