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Reciting prayers

I am Protestant through and through. Moreover, I’m an American Evangelical. That means my prayers are spontaneous, unscripted, and required to have two to three “Father Gods” and at least three uses of “just” per prayer. While we may recite the Apostle’s creed once or twice a year and the Nicene Creed once a decade, scripted prayers are not part of our spiritual practice. I’m not entirely sure the rational behind this. Perhaps it’s to help ensure our faith is ours and not just a verbalization of another person’s faith (God doesn’t have grandkids, etc.) And of course, there is the Jesus’s exhortation not to “babble like the pagans” in Matthew 6:7, although this verse directly precedes the Lord’s Prayer, which evangelicals do recite. Eh, who needs theological consistency.

Honestly, I’m rather jealous of the written and recited prayers of other faith traditions with more formal liturgies. In stressful times, it’s nice to have someone else to fall back on and not have to form coherent thoughts, though I’m sure God can interpret my incoherence. (To be fair, this is why evangelicals emphasize scripture memorization. When you don’t know what else to pray, pray the Bible.) Like the Bible–though in a lesser, non-inspired way–it’s nice to be guided by the prayers of those who have walked before us. I think there is room in our lives for both the scripted and the spontaneous. Though maybe we could lose a few “justs.”

One of my favorite prayers is the so-called “Prayer of St. Francis” which is not by St. Francis, lovely though both he and the prayer are.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;

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Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Do you have a favorite written prayer? Share!

One response to “Reciting prayers”

  1. Cindy Watson Avatar
    Cindy Watson

    I grew up Episcopalian and there are times when I find such rest and richness in the Book of Common Prayer.

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