f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

December 6, 2005

wanted: a law school exam prayer

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:05 pm

Many law schools started their exam periods yesterday, and some desperate

soul — student, professor, ASP professional? — Googled law school exam prayer>.

There were over 5 million results, but, looking through the top 100 results, I found

nothing really on point, — not even our post issue-spotting for faith-based law schools,  

which came in #3, contained a special prayer to help assure law exam success.

Instead, the unfortunate search mostly finds links to items about court cases on

prayer in schools.


Oh, sure, Elizabeth Stillman at the Law School Academic Support weblog wrote    prayingHandsSN

about exam panic in the hallways, in a post entitled “Oh My God, It’s Coming From

Inside the Building” (Dec. 2, 2005).  But, the closest mention of prayer is her suggestion

that “This may be a good time to indulge in superstitions.”  Also, on Oct. 12, 2005, Prof.

Stillman ended a piece on study-aids by saying “Note, however, that in late November,

when students come to me panicked because they have not outlined yet (exams here

start in early December), I recommend prayer.”   Recommendation, but no specifics. 

tiny check Similarly, Kimberly Swygert at Number 2 Pencil notes that “The

impending LSAT drivesstudents to pray,” and quotes the old saw —

“As long as there are tests in schools, there will be prayer in schools” 

— but offers no sample prayer.  


tiny check Likewise, Dean Brauch at Regent University Law School gives prayer

and God a lot of credit for increasing bar exam pass rates from under

50% to over 70% — but no prayer is specified.

A prayer calendar (Summer 2005) from Trinity International University did note that

Trinity Law School students would be taking the California State Bar Exam, from July

26-28, and it asks that readers “Pray for wisdom, along with physical and mental stam-

ina, during this three-day exam” on behalf of the law graduates. [Note: TIU Law School,

in Santa Ana, California, is accredited by the California Bar, and may be one of those

schools with special need for help on the state’s bar exam — as explored in Professor

Steve Bainbridge‘s little poke at Kathy Sullivan and barriers to entry yesterday.]


long winter —

prayer bundles sway

in the cedars

                                 Billie Wilson 


The most inspiring part of my “research” for this posting was finding the Home Page of

Dayton U. Law School’s Vernellia Randall. Professor Randall is an expert on issues

involving race and healthcare.  Not only is one of Prof. Randall’s two sons named Issa,

but she has “spent 13 years in nursing, including serving as the Maternal-ChildHealth

Nurse Coordinator for the State of Alaska.”  Given her connections with nursing, medical

school (adjunct professor) and teaching, and her love of poetry, Prof. Randall certainly 

scores much higher than the average lawyer in the Gallop Poll released yesterday on

Honesty and Ethical Ratings of People in Different Professions (Dec. 5, 2005) (via

Blawg Review editor).


blackboard abcN


You can see Prof. Randall’s attempt to bring more spirituality into the profession in the

advice she gives at the Dayton Law School website for exam preparation and taking.  In

addition to having discussions on studying and sample tests, her exam prep page ends

with a link to the Serenity Prayer.  Although there are times when I believe the Prayer is

a bit too passive and expects too much assistance and action from God, its tone is probably

quite appropriate for the panicked law student facing exams.  For those who do not remem-

ber the prayer, which is often affiliated with AA and is credited to either Reinhold Niebuhr or

Friedrich Oetinger), here it is:

The Serenity Prayer


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change 
The courage to change the things I can  
And the wisdom to know the difference  
Living one day at a time  
Enjoying one moment at a time  
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace  
Taking, as God did, this sinful world as it is, 
Not as I would have it  
Trusting that God will make all things right  
If I surrender to God’s will  
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,  
And supremely happy with God forever in the next

Call me a perfectionist or a malcontent, but I wish we had something aimed far more

specifically at law school examination takers, much like the dandy “A Serenity Prayer

 for Law Review Authors,” presented last month at Contracts Prof Blog.  I’d take a crack

at writing a version, but (a) it’s been thirty years since I took a law school exam, and (b)

more important, I’m just not a prayer-oriented guy — I don’t believe in asking God

for favors, especially because I don’t believe He does retail (like exams or at bats) or

wholesale (like hurricanes).    Therefore, I urge any and all visitors to make a sincere

attempt at writing A Serenity Prayer for Law Student Exams, or any other prayer on that

topic.  My own suggestion for test-takers: don’t take the exams too seriously, and take a

deep breath whenever you feel yourself becoming uncentered.


p.s. Two years ago, back before AJC graduated and passed the bar,

a SuaSponte post entitled “exam waves” stated:  

“To all the 1Ls starting exams this week…I’d like to do something

like a prayer chain, without espousing any particular religion that

may not be yours. I know how invaluable it was to me last year to

know that people were thinking of me, supporting me, pulling for

me all through exams. Now I want to return the favor.”

The f/k/a Gang sends its good-exam vibes to all those law students

who need comforting, along with the comforting thought that choking

really badly on the exam might just be you telling you that the legal

profession is not a good fit.


update (Dec. 7, 2005):  Jeremy Richey has posted a wonderful generic “Exam”

prayer at his website, taken from Celtic Blessings: Prayers for Everyday Life,

which was compiled by Ray Simpson.  It deftly hits a lot of themes relevant

to law exams, including:

Aid me to understand this subject
with my heart as well as with my head.

Give me
Wisdom to know the nub of things . . .

Thanks, JR. 

silent prayer–

the quiet humming

of the ceiling fan


  Lee Gurga Fresh Scent



even the pigeon

says a prayer


           Kobayashi Issa,
                  translated by David G. Lanoue





catholic league playoff

i cut the ball

with my lucky crucifix


        ed markowski



outdoor art show

three agnostics pray

the rain will end






  1. This is not specifically for law school, but I like this prayer for students and scholars, found at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s graduate ministries website.

    “Bring to This Desk”

    A Prayer for Wisdom

    by Charles H. Troutman, Jr.

    O Sovereign Lord, Almighty Father,
    Creator of heaven and earth
    bring to this desk
    the information I need.

    Lighten my darkness and
    by thy great mercy
    cause me to perceive accurately.

    Deliver me
    from hidden insincerities,
    from betrayal or flattery of friends,
    from cowardice and laziness,
    from arrogance and inaction.

    Grant thy Spirit
    to guard my tongue
    that no words of mine
    may be unfit for the present need.

    Then take my very best
    and make it good enough for thee.


    Comment by Jane — December 7, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

  2. This is not specifically for law school, but I like this prayer for students and scholars, found at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s graduate ministries website.

    “Bring to This Desk”

    A Prayer for Wisdom

    by Charles H. Troutman, Jr.

    O Sovereign Lord, Almighty Father,
    Creator of heaven and earth
    bring to this desk
    the information I need.

    Lighten my darkness and
    by thy great mercy
    cause me to perceive accurately.

    Deliver me
    from hidden insincerities,
    from betrayal or flattery of friends,
    from cowardice and laziness,
    from arrogance and inaction.

    Grant thy Spirit
    to guard my tongue
    that no words of mine
    may be unfit for the present need.

    Then take my very best
    and make it good enough for thee.


    Comment by Jane — December 7, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

  3. Thank you, Jane.  Lovely.

    Comment by David Giacalone — December 7, 2005 @ 8:23 pm

  4. Thank you, Jane.  Lovely.

    Comment by David Giacalone — December 7, 2005 @ 8:23 pm

  5. Wanted: The mental ability to take my law school exams.


    Comment by Chris Laurel — December 11, 2005 @ 9:59 pm

  6. Wanted: The mental ability to take my law school exams.


    Comment by Chris Laurel — December 11, 2005 @ 9:59 pm

  7. Psalm 119 may be the longest chapter in the Bible, but how apropriate for students of law to commit it to their hearts, minds, and souls during their preparation for a career in the law. Almost every verse reminds us God’s law, and the basis for our U.S. law: It’s structure (in Hebrew) is an acrostic, with the first lines of each section beginning with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It’s a lawyer’s mnemonic device perfect for studying laws, precepts, statutes, testimonies, judgments, words, commandments, ordinances, evil ways, justices:

    Psalm 119
    1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
    2Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
    3They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
    4Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.
    5O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
    6Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

    7I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

    8I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

    9Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

    10With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
    11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
    12Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
    13With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
    14I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
    15I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
    16I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
    17Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
    18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
    19I am a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.
    20My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.
    21Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
    22Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.
    23Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
    24Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.
    25My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
    26I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me: teach me thy statutes.
    27Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
    28My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
    29Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously.
    30I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
    31I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.
    32I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
    33Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
    34Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
    35Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
    36Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
    37Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
    38Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
    39Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
    40Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
    41Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
    42So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
    43And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.
    44So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.
    45And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.
    46I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
    47And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.
    48My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
    49Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.
    50This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
    51The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.
    52I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
    53Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.
    54Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
    55I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
    56This I had, because I kept thy precepts.
    57Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy words.
    58I intreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
    59I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.
    60I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.
    61The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.
    62At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
    63I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
    64The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.
    65Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
    66Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments.
    67Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
    68Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.
    69The proud have forged a lie against me: but I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart.
    70Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
    71It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
    72The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
    73Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.
    74They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
    75I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.
    76Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
    77Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.
    78Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
    79Let those that fear thee turn unto me, and those that have known thy testimonies.
    80Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed.
    81My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
    82Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
    83For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.
    84How many are the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?
    85The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law.
    86All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
    87They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I forsook not thy precepts.
    88Quicken me after thy lovingkindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.
    89For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
    90Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.
    91They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.
    92Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
    93I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
    94I am thine, save me: for I have sought thy precepts.
    95The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
    96I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
    97O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
    98Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
    99I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
    100I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
    101I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
    102I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
    103How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
    104Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
    105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
    106I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
    107I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
    108Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments.
    109My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.
    110The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.
    111Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart.
    112I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
    113I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.
    114Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
    115Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God.
    116Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
    117Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
    118Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit is falsehood.
    119Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
    120My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.
    121I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
    122Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
    123Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
    124Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
    125I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
    126It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
    127Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
    128Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
    129Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.
    130The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.
    131I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.
    132Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
    133Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
    134Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.
    135Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.
    136Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.
    137Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments.
    138Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.
    139My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
    140Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
    141I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts.
    142Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.
    143Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights.
    144The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live.
    145I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes.
    146I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies.
    147I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
    148Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
    149Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment.
    150They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law.
    151Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth.
    152Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever.
    153Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law.
    154Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
    155Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.
    156Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments.
    157Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies.
    158I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
    159Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
    160Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
    161Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
    162I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
    163I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.
    164Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments.
    165Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
    166LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.
    167My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly.
    168I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.
    169Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
    170Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
    171My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
    172My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
    173Let thine hand help me; for I have chosen thy precepts.
    174I have longed for thy salvation, O LORD; and thy law is my delight.
    175Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.
    176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.

    Comment by Dee — December 12, 2006 @ 10:53 am

  8. I have to agree with the comment posted by Dee (amazing God, that is the same name as my spiritual sister/prayer partner). I have been searching for answers from God because I work in a law firm but I have been studying the Bible and not sure what direction to go. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and let me know that studying the law and meditating on his statutes applies not only to His word but LEGAL statutes as well and asking God to help commit them to memory in your mind and heart. I was led to this website in search of prayers for law students and lawyers. Thank you holy Spirit and Dee for CONFIRMATION!!!! Amen!!!!

    Comment by Marisa Turner — May 22, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

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