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Past Prayer Life Regression

Call it therapy.

Last night we met with our rag-tag band of merry men persons. The facilitator for the evening led us through some readings of Henri Nouwen and some thoughts on prayer. She then passed around some well-known prayers and some prayers from scripture; we each selected one of these at random, to read aloud and to give any thoughts which came to mind.

One was The Serenity Prayer, which I always found rather trite until I heard the rest of it… there’s more to it than fits on the plaques you see everywhere, and its composer turns out to be Reinhold Niebur. Another was The Apostles Creed; another was a portion of Pslam 62, and there were two of my personal favorites from Ephesians 1 and Ephesians 3, as well as others. Many of us were impacted directly by the prayer drawn “randomly.”

I drew Psalm 61:1-5 which I took as a prayer of thanks that God hears us even from the ends of the earth when he seems distant, and of thanksgiving for a heritage we have in the saints who have gone before us.

A quote was related, from the perspective of a liturgical church on the recitation of scripted prayers: “You evangelicals come into the presence of Holy God, and you ‘wing it’.” There is so much we don’t understand about prayer… I recall Andrew Murray’s statement, “Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach, only how to pray.” (From With Christ in the School of Prayer.) Of course, he gave them a scripted prayer to work with — understanding that they should use that and others, both scripted and spontaneous. The fact is, much along the lines of what Nouwen related, meditating on these prayers causes them to “unfold” and we see their richness as we pray them.

My own thoughts for the evening included the remembrance of a season of my own life (sojourn) during which I had much greater grace (and/or time and/or discipline) to pray than what I have now. Hence, I had a kind of “past prayer life regression” which was a welcome reminder for me of a time when I used “scripted” (actually a lot of scriptural) prayers as well as the more spontaneous stream of consciousness type of prayer that evangelicals and charismatics are more known for. But maybe I always did have at least one liturgical bone in my body. ;^)

5 Responses to “Past Prayer Life Regression”

  1. Emerging Church Blogs Says:

    s it. When I read the prayers of the apostles in the New Testament and when I look at some of the liturgical prayers, they’re short, rich, deep, and meaningful. Many are prayers that bear repeating, slowly and contemplatively. I recall past prayer lives and though they felt more vibrant at the time, in some ways, they feel like I’ve been babbling. I think about something I read or heard once about Mother Theresa…. Mother Teresa was once asked by an interviewer what she said to God when she

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  3. Steve Harold Says:

    I think it cna be amazing what we can learn from the past… and it can be useful to take time out just to dip into and be reminded of, resourceful states from our past.

  4. Brother Maynard Says:

    Steve,

    “Past” for me is limited to a single lifetime, as I’m quite confident that each of us only gets one. In other words, I don’t really line up with you on most of what you’re implying, but It’s definitely true that we do profit from considering our past, whether that be from our own lifetime (singular) or from the collective lifetimes of our species — i.e., from those ancestors that have gone before us.

  5. Steve Harold Says:

    Referring to my first comment (from the past of course) I wasn’t necessarily implying a past of more than one life. What I was pointing out is that in our past (meaning the past of this life we are living) we would have had experiences of success, achievement, pleasant surprises and more. These past events when remembered bring with them a percentage of those past resourceful feeings of success etc and it can be useful to dip back and recall them. NLP makes a lot of use of this.

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