I’ve never been keen on using written prayers in my times of personal prayer; I’ve always felt that they perhaps tended to stifle creativity and spontaneity, until recently. I’m finding them very helpful, especially when praying silently, because they serve as a focus point.
For explanation’s sake, I divide my prayers into 3 basic types: 1. Verbal prayers or prayers of petition 2. Prayers of longing, seeking, and desire, which would include praise and thanksgiving 3. Silent prayers.
I find that as the verbalizing and asking in prayer decreases the degree of prayer difficulty increases.
Verbal prayers are the easiest because I know specifically the thing or topic I’m praying for.
Prayers of longing, seeking and desire become a little more difficult for me in that, while I may not actually know how to verbalize precisely everything I’m seeking to express, still, there is enough specificity involved that I don’t often lose my focus.
But when it comes to silent prayer, of waiting before the Lord, this is the time and the realm where I find that written prayers are valuable to employ. I find that when I’m seeking to be still before the Lord, to quiet my heart, mind and spirit, that this is the time when my mind becomes like the neighborhood stray dog, in that in likes to run every which way but to be quiet, disciplined, and listen.
And so I’ll often at this point, if I find my mind wandering, my thoughts flitting about non-stop, that I’ll employ written prayers. And the written prayers that I use are ones that I basically commit to memory just by the fact that I use them repeatedly. They end up becoming second nature.
An example of such a prayer is the following, one that I kind of both compiled and made up:
Lord God, maker of heaven and earth
Creator of my soul
Help me, cause me, to worship towards your Holy Name.
Lord, you remain a name only except I know you personally
Help me to know you, whom to know is life eternal
Lord, you said we don’t know what we should pray for as we should,
But that the Spirit makes intercession and prayers for us
Help the Holy Spirit to take over and my prayers to be effective
I pray the Spirit would pray in me and through me and by me and for me
Help me to bring my undisciplined mind and my wayward thoughts and lay them all at your altar, at your throne
Help me to truly bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Help me to pray for what needs to be prayed for
And when words fail me, or I’m finished with words, that my prayers would be prayers of longing and desire
And most of all I pray that I could learn to be still before you and to know that you are God.
The first stanza may sound a little informal until you try such a thing. Praying thus reminds me to whom and what I’m praying and that I literally need His help even to pray.
The second stanza reminds me of my goal in prayer.
The third stanza of prayer reminds me that it has to be the Spirit interceding, that I’ve got to get not only in prayer but in the Spirit.
The fourth stanza of my prayer reminds me; although I don’t really need to be reminded at this point, that I’ve got to control my thoughts, my body, for the sake of the spiritual
And the fifth and final stanza again spells out and focuses for me what I’m trying to accomplish in prayer.
If I’m taking quiet time before the Lord, mainly seeking to listen, I won’t be rattling this prayer off in constant repetition like some kind of a repeating loop. It’s when I find my focus waning, my mind wandering, then I’ll start to pray my written prayer and that’s when it helps me to pull my focus back into concentrating prayer. Sometimes I might have to repeat it one or more times, depending on the difficulty I may be experiencing in prayer. I just try to be led at this point of the spirit and I’m not so conscious of the quantity of the experience but the quality.
I post these things in as unassuming manner as I know how. I’m not trying to be either self-seeking or self-aggrandizing. Written prayers are proving a method and means that add depth and richness to my prayer life and I simply wish to share my experiences as such. Perhaps they may help you.
Copyright © 2014 by John Hislop