Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Lesson in Prayer

Out of the 80+ blogs I have added to my Google Reader (one of the best inventions besides the Internet itself, may I add), I have five favorites. And Jen's Conversion Diary is near the tippy-top of that list. A former atheist, she is a Catholic mom-to-small-ones who writes beautifully and deeply about living this Christian life transparently and honestly. Humor often lightens her subject matter, but at other times she speaks directly to my heart.

And the following post did exactly that.

I have struggled with prayer in the past. I felt like prayer was simply taking a list of needs to God and asking Him to "gimme, gimme, gimme," although I of course mixed in the appropriate praise and thanks. I tried praying the ACTS model: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication which provided an improvement, but I still somehow felt that something very, very important was missing from my prayer life.

It wasn't until I discovered the Book of Common Prayer that I found what was truly missing from my prayer life: a focus outside myself, outside my family and friends(although those prayers are important, they were making up 90% of my prayer life). I learned to pray "for the whole state of Christ's Church" through the Book of Common Prayer, and most of the prayers consisted of Scripture or were based on Scripture.

Learning to pray for the kingdom of God by praying God's Word has revolutionized my prayer life. I feel as if the words I pray are fitting to pray to the "King of kings and Lord of lords" yet are also intimate enough to pray to my "Abba, Father."

Jen at Conversion Diary writes about her very similar experience in this blog post, A Lesson in Prayer. She writes far better than I do, so I hope that you will appreciate her meditations on her own prayer life. I know that I have.

Some of my favorite prayer books:
The 1928 Book of Common Prayer (USA) (85% Scripture)
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer (British)
The Divine Hours (three volumes) by Phyllis Tickle (90% Scripture)
Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie
Some evangelicals don't seem to understand the need for prayer books, at least until Stormie O'Martian started publishing her books The Power of a Praying Wife, etc. Prayer books should never make up ALL of one's prayer life, but they are a helpful aid to supplement our intercessory prayers. One of the aspects I most appreciate about the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is the prayers listed for our political leaders (our President, Congress, state legislators, governors, etc.), our pastors, the worldwide Christian Church, the poor and needy at our gates and around the world, those being oppressed and persecuted, etc.

The prayer book reminds me to pray for people I may not think to pray for, and there's plenty of room for me to add extemporaneous prayers as I pray through the written prayer book prayers as well. I find myself praying both from the book and then stopping to pray for specific individuals and situations as the Spirit leads. As I pray the General Confession, the Spirit brings to mind specific sins I need to address. I pray with both my heart and my mind, really with my entire soul, when I pray from these prayer books. And isn't that part of the reason to pray, along with glorifying God which I feel these prayer books do far better than I ever could on my own.

Enjoy Jen's blog post on A Lesson in Prayer. I hope that you find it as challenging as I have.

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