Thursday, July 06, 2006

"My" Lord's Prayer

Do you know that passage in Romans that talks about the Holy Spirit interceding for you when you don't know what to pray for? I find myself in that situation a lot. I use words all of the time, but there are times when, though I am thoroughly convinced of the power and importance of prayer, the words simply fail me. I constantly find myself in situations where I have no idea what to pray for. I found this incredibly disheartening for years...I felt like I wasn't "good" at prayer. I while back, I read N.T. Wright's exceptional book Simply Christian, and I ran across this bit of wisdom:

"Part of our difficulty here is that we moderns are so anxious to do things our own way , so concerned that if we get help from anyone else our prayer wont be 'authentic' and come from our own heart, that we are instantly suspicious about using anyone else's prayers. We are like someone who doesn't feel she's properly dressed unless she has personally designed and make all her own clothes; or like someone who feels it's artificial to drive a car he hasn't built all by himself. We are hamstrung by the long legacy of the Romantic movement on the one hand, and Existentialism on the other, producing the idea that things are authenic only if they come spontaneously, unbidden, from the depths of our hearts...There's nothing wrong with having a form of words composed by somebody else. Indeed, there's probably something wrong with not using such a form. Some Christians, some of the time, can sustain a life of prayer entirely out of their own internal resources, just as there are hardy mountaineers (I've met one) who can walk the Scottish highlands in their bare feet. But most of us need boots; not because we don't want to do the walking ourselves, but because we do."

In context, Wright is proposing "The Lord's Prayer" (as well as a few others) as a form for prayer rather than just an example of one. It's a form that can be used in exactly the situations I have been describing, not to be passionlessly recited, but to be passionately engaged. In those times (which I've had a lot of recently), I rework Jesus' prayer. I pour my feelings, situation, faith and need into this form and deep, meaningful prayer comes out on the other side. Normally it winds up sounding something like this:

"Our Father in Heaven,
May I always revere your Name and hold it in high esteem...
And may I live in a way that causes others to do the same,
The desire of my heart is that Your dream for Your creation would come true...that in both my life and in the world around me, Your will would be reality the same way it is in Heaven,
You have always met my needs and I trust that you will lovingly continue to do so,
You have forgiven me,
Help me to forgive all others in the same way
Please guide me away from tempation
Save me from the evil one and the evil that seeks to destroy your work in the world and in me,
for the kingdom, the power, and the glory all belong to you (not me),
and they will be yours forever (as will I)."


1 comment:

Phil said...

Reading it right now. Great, great book.