Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Written Prayers

I don't know what you think about written prayers, but I find that using written prayers in my own devotional life with God broadens my Christian horizon, articulates unexpressed thoughts and desires, and connects me with Christians from very different historical and cultural situations yet who have experienced the same God I know and love.

Two written prayers have captured me recently.

The first is from Basil the Great (c.330-379), Bishop of Caesarea, theologian, and one of the three great Cappadocian Fathers of the church. I love the way he captures the imagery of traveling by sea, contemporary for his world and relevant to mine.

"Steer the ship of my life, Lord, to Your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict. Show me the course I should take. Renew in me the gift of discernment, so that I can see the right direction in which I should go. And give me the strength and the courage to choose the right course, even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger in Your Name, we shall find comfort and peace. Amen. "

The second if from Henry Martyn (1781-1812), scholar and pioneer missionary to India and Persia.

"Lord, I am blind and helpless, stupid and ignorant, cause me to hear; cause me to know; teach me to do; lead me."

To that I can identify! I feel that way too!

What do you think about written prayers? Do you have any written prayers that have been meaningful to you? Can you identify with, echo, pray one of these prayers to God from your heart?


  1. I don't get a whole lot of time to read much except for the Bible, so lately I've been connecting with prayers from the Psalms. This morning I read from Psalm 17 and 18, and some of the verses just jumped off the page. Every time I read them, it's something different. Today it was the ones where the Psalmist appeals to his righteousness: "the LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness..." (18:24).
    The Lord reminded me that I am righteous because of Christ's righteousness, not because of my own. When I sin, there are consequences and I need to turn away from it, but it doesn't negate what Jesus has already done for me on the Cross.
    So then I could read and be encouraged while I identified with the struggles and victories david wrote about, even tho our circumstances are quite different: "He rescued me because He delighted in me"!, "I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed...they fell under my feet...You equipped me with strength for the battle" (18:19,37-39) ("enemies" being invisible enemies, and "battle" being spiritual warfare, Eph 6:12.)
    I also like Eph.3:14-21 and Eph.1:16-21ish.

  2. Praying the Psalms has been a centuries-long practice though often neglected, Leah Joy. Today some are redisovering praying a phrase at a time, re-living the text in today's contemporary world through prayer!

  3. Hi Pastor Dave and Rose Hill,

    Just thought I'd check out this blog. I imagine one purpose of this blog is as a forum for discussion, which I think is a great idea.

    So I read the blog, and I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but I'm a bit annoyed by it. Where's the call to action? There's a great deal of attention paid to prayer, and it sounds so very pious, but there's absolutely nothing in this blog about actually doing anything.

    Instead, we're encouraged to read prayer, to make prayer central to the church, and even to "pray about praying". I understand the need for prayer, but there's got to be some sort of balance between prayer and action. It isn't very hard to find people in need who could use our immediate help more than our weekly prayer (www.unitedwaytwincities.org). What if, instead of meeting for one of those community prayer events, the church brought meals to someone's home or did yard work for them?

    I look forward to reading your responses,

    Paul Boswell

  4. Thanks, Paul, for your comments. It's hard to say everything in a few short paragraphs. Loving God leads to serving others in tangile ways, otherwise that love is disingenuous.

    Prayer prompts us into responses. Contemplation moves us to action. Being leads to doing.

    Sometimes we emphasize one over the other, but a reminder to maintain balance is always helpful.

  5. Yes, Leah, the Psalms is the prayer and praise book of the Church and every Christian.