In this paper I examine the prayers written in Queen Elizabeth I's voice in the 1569 volume Christian Prayers and Meditations to show how the prayers negotiate the problem of Elizabeth's gender through the language of weakness. The prayers repeatedly assert the queen's weakness, sinfulness, and humility, and while these are conventional assertions in early modern religious writing, they strategically place the queen in a powerful position from which she can claim a divine right to the throne and a direct link to God. In these prayers, Elizabeth's female sex becomes a mark of God's favor, through which the divine power can manifest itself even more potently than it might through a male ruler.
Although it seems very likely that Elizabeth did indeed write the prayers published in this volume, as asserted by the editors of the 2000 Collected Works, I suggest that it is more important to read Christian Prayers as a text that produces the effect of Elizabeth as an author, and thus as a contributor to the construction of Elizabeth's public image as a powerful ruler and, like her father, a second David. As in the Psalms, the prayers acknowledges the queen's own shortcomings and sins, but like David, Elizabeth appears as a ruler whom God will always support and love. Finally, the queen's image as an author draws strength from the comparison of Elizabeth with David, the putative author of the Psalms.