Thursday, November 3, 2011

Using Written Prayers


Why is it that most evangelical believers grow up thinking that the only way to really pray is to pray spontaneously? This is the only sort of praying I ever experienced growing up. The only prayers that were not spontaneous were intercessory prayer lists either for people who were sick or for missionaries. Other than that, I never heard anyone talk about praying something that was already written out. A little more than 20 years ago, a wonderful professor of mine at Southwestern by the name of Bruce Leafblad taught me better. The class was spiritual formation, and among many other things, he taught us two things about this kind of praying that has drastically altered my approach to prayer. First and most important, was the practice of praying the prayers recorded in scripture. We will never improve on the words of scripture. When we are praying the words of scripture, we can know that we are praying according to God’s will. Furthermore, in the act of praying these words, they are working on our souls for the renewing of our minds as Rom. 12:2 discusses. I will be preaching soon on one of those prayers that I have used nearly every day for the last twenty years, Eph. 3:14-21. Second, he taught us to write out specific things we know that we need to pray for ourselves daily such as specific character issues. I began this practice then and continue to do so to the present. The material I use most every day to pray for my own spiritual formation stretches for more than a page. Yes, there is a danger in this becoming legalistic and mechanical. From time to time, I have to put it aside to correct my tendency toward “checking the box.” But I find myself returning to it and using it most of the time.

That said, I’ve recently added two items to this prayer material. One is from J.D. Greear’s book Gospel, which I’ve recently mentioned. In that book, Greear challenges his readers to pray the following daily.
Gospel Prayer
1. “In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done that makes You love me less.”
2. “Your presence and approval are all I need for everlasting joy.”
3. “As You have been to me, so I will be to others.”
4. “As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power by the resurrection.” [1]
I’ve also added this simple prayer, recommended by Craig Groeschel. You will have to see the 12th chapter of his book to see more of what he means by this short outline:
Stretch me, ruin me, heal me.
Do you have any such material that you pray daily for the development of your own soul? I’d love to hear about it.

Gene

[1] Greear, J.D.; Keller, Timothy (2011-09-13). Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (pp. 40-42). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

No comments:

Post a Comment