I should say something about the reason I write my prayers. I know there are some who think that writing prayers in advance isn't a very good thing. I understand why they feel that way. I grew up feeling that way. I used to think that if a person read a prayer it meant they didn't really believe it. If anybody did that at home church (and I don't recall any brave souls who bucked the trend in my home church) they would have lost serious sincerity points.
That's how I felt before I began leading people in prayer. Leading public prayer is a different animal than praying by yourself in your closet. The goal isn't to express your own thoughts, feelings, or concerns. The goal is to be a voice for the community before God. If I don't prepare my prayers I find that I am even more likely to overlook community needs (even writing my prayers doesn't solve that problem completely).
There is another goal. Language and words are cheapened in our world. They fly around like paper wads in a third grade classroom. There is value in stopping and thinking about how we craft our words before God. Sometimes I accomplish my goals, sometimes I don't, but it is worth the extra time it takes to prepare the words I speak publicly to God.
If I come across as insincere, I am willing to take that criticism. In the long run I think most people know that I mean what I say in my public prayers--at least as much as people who continually repeat the same phrases that roll continually and unthinkingly off their tongues.
That said ... I haven't received any flack of late, though I still hear the occasional word of curiosity about the practice.
Prayers of the Church for
September 30, 2007
As dew restores the fragile field grass, as sleep restores fatigued flesh, as hope restores life, restore our souls by making yourself known to us through the spoken Word, the sung note, the uttered prayer, the broken bread, the emptying cup.
You have promised to be present where two or more gather in your name, and so we intentionally assemble under this roof as an offering to you. We don’t leave our lives behind us in the outside world; we push them together and raise them to you.
For breathing us into existence and equipping us with the gift of appreciation, we worship you. For the beauty of the earth that reflects your own, we worship you. For providing the light of hope and purpose, we worship you.
Just as we cannot create ourselves, we cannot re-create ourselves. We turn to you for the grace that splashes from your ocean tides of mercy. Forgive us for looking to our own interests, for separating from one another and hoping that would bring us closer to you, for making ourselves into advanced teams of our own agendas.
As you sent the disciples, send us, in unison. As you empowered the disciples to be agents of your healing, empower us. As you gave the gift of the fullness of your peace to the disciples to share with their hosts, give to us. By your power and grace, may the
May the supremacy and sway of God be made visible in the healing of those who are sick, the comforting of those who grieve deep in their souls, the protection of those who are in such danger that they live on alert, the budding of hope in those who find themselves in prisons of depression, and the realization of your presence and peace for those who stand alone before the dark and imposing face of death.
Hear the requests we make in the silence and help us to hear what you would say to us:
Make our lives and our words your proclamation, O God, that your kingdom has beautifully and powerfully arrived on Earth. We pray as you have taught us …