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. ;^)