Prayer for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

For June 24 or Other Occasions

The birth (or nativity) of John the Baptist is recorded in Scripture, although only in the Gospel of Luke. John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, were childless and too old to have children. Zechariah was a priest, and during his rotation to serve in the Jerusalem temple, he was chosen to offer incense at the Golden Altar. The angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him Elizabeth would give birth to a child who would be called "John." However, Zechariah did not believe the message, and for his unbelief he was made mute until John's birth. John grew up to be an important prophet and forerunner of Jesus. John was later beheaded by Herod Antipas.

John's nativity is celebrated on June 24 as a solemnity. Most (though not all) saints are celebrated on the anniversary of their death, in recognition of the works they did during their lifetime. John's birthday is one of only three marked in the liturgical calendar, along with the Nativity of Mary and the Nativity of Jesus (Christmas). We celebrate John's birth because, although he was not conceived without original sin the way Mary was, Church Tradition holds that when John the Baptist encountered Jesus while still in his mother's womb (at the Visitation), John was filled with the Holy Spirit and thus was born already purified of original sin. This is foretold to his father, Zechariah, in Luke 1:15 by the angel, who says "he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb."

In many European countries the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist was considered a "quarter day," which marked off the four parts of the year, roughly aligning with the changing of the seasons.

Icon of the Nativity of John the Baptist


Prayer for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Almighty God, by Whose providence Your servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of Your Son, our Savior, by preaching repentance:

Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


The Book of Common Prayer


Compiled by

Updated 02-22-2023 by Elizabeth Craig