According to the Masonic Manual of the Grand Lodge of Georgia, “The labors and duties of the lodge must begin and end with prayer. The brethren cannot be too often reminded of their dependence on the Grand Architect of the Universe for every blessing they enjoy.” This reminds us that the Lodge Room is a sacred place and should be respected as such. When we enter the Lodge while it is at Labor, we are symbolically entering the Holy of Holies, the Sanctum Sanctorum, of Solomon’s Temple. That space was built to be the residence of God on earth. If you cannot internalize and understand this symbol, I wonder if you can truly understand any of the symbols of Freemasonry.
In the Masonic Manual, there are two versions of opening and closing prayers. Most Lodges use the shorter of the two for each, I find this disheartening. We are so interested in shortening our time in Lodge that we use the shorter version that is not nearly as rich in praise and supplications to our Creator.
The opening prayer which should be used is this:
Most holy and glorious Lord God, the great Architect of the Universe, the giver of all good gifts and graces, in Thy name we have assembled and in Thy name we desire to proceed in all our doings. Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant passion within us, so harmonize and enrich our hearts with Thine own love and goodness, that the Lodge at this time may humbly reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before Thy throne! Amen! Response: So mote it be!
In this prayer we acknowledge that God is the Creator and the giver of all that is good; we state that we are meeting in His name. Think a minute about what that means, everything we do or say while in lodge assembled is done or said in His name and should be uplifting to each other, society and should glorify Him. Do we live up to this? Do we even try?
We pray that the “sublime principles of Freemasonry” should soften our hearts and minds and allow us to be in complete harmony with our Brethren. When we say the sublime principles of Freemasonry, when we call the Master Mason Degree the sublime degree, we are saying that Freemasonry is of outstanding spiritual, intellectual, or moral worth. Our Lodge is to be a reflection of Heaven itself. Although this is a corporate prayer, we make it personal and accept it as our own when we respond, “So Mote It Be” we are agreeing and declaring it our personal prayer.
Note that the alternate version does not do nearly as well at putting us in the mood of reverence as the longer prayer:
Supreme Ruler of the Universe, we would reverently invoke Thy blessing at this time. Wilt Thou be pleased to grant that this meeting, thus begun in order, may be conducted in peace and closed in harmony! Amen! Response: So mote it be!
Consider well the atmosphere that you want to create as you open the Lodge as a sacred place of worship.
The closing prayer is equally reverent as the opening prayer; it addresses our interactions while in lodge and our obligations to each other and the world while outside of the lodge.
Supreme Architect of the Universe, accept our humble praises for the many mercies and blessings which Thy bounty has conferred upon us, and especially for this friendly and social intercourse. Pardon, we beseech Thee, whatever Thou hast seen amiss in us since we have been together, and continue unto us Thy presence, protection and blessing. Make us sensible of the renewed obligations we are under: to love Thee supremely and to be friendly to each other. May all our irregular passions be subdued and may we daily increase in Faith, Hope and Charity, but more especially in that charity which is the bond of peace and the perfection of every virtue. Wilt thou be pleased so to influence our hearts and minds that we may so practice. Amen! Response: So mote it be!
We start out thanking Him that for his mercy and for the blessings he has bestowed on us. We then thank him for allowing us to meet together as Masons and friends. We should remember to always acknowledge what He has allowed us to do and what we do through Him. We should thank him for each other; our Brethren are a blessing to us. We ask for forgiveness for anything we may have said or done that does not lift each other up nor glorify Him. Our prayer is that we remain under His care and protection.
We are reminded that we renew our obligations to Him and to each other every time we open and close the Lodge. We pray for help in subduing our irregular passions and increasing in Faith, Hope and Charity. We hope to demonstrate virtue with the aid of the Supreme Architect of the Universe, to put aside the imperfections that are inherent in Man. We are not trying to suppress all of our passions, just our irregular passions. Some passions are to be desired: bravery; study; music; faith, etc. Irregular passions are when we let our passions (anger, lust, envy, greed, etc.) overcome us and we act outside of laws rules or customs of our Craft or society in general. We need Him to influence our hearts and minds to meet this goal. We should take the sacredness of the Lodge room to the world so that they can get a glimpse of the Divine.
The shorter version also calls on Him to help us to practice the tenets of our Craft outside the Lodge. It reminds us that we are to learn great moral duties and that we should revere the Word of God and study and obey His laws.
Supreme Grand Master, Ruler of Heaven and Earth: Now that we are about to separate and return to our respective places of abode, wilt Thou be pleased so to influence our hearts and minds that we may each practice out of the Lodge those great moral duties which are taught in it; and, with reverence, study and obey the laws which Thou hast given us in Thy Holy Word. Amen! Response: So mote it be!
Let us never forget that we should always turn to Him before we enter into any great or important undertaking; like getting out of bed, going to work, dealing with our family, driving our car, shopping for groceries or attending Lodge. In everything we do, let us try to reflect that order and beauty which reign forever before the throne of God.