Friday, September 08, 2006

public scripture and private prayer

N.T. Wright's new book, "Simply Christian" has challenged me on two things. First, the use of scripture readings in worship. Secondly, the regular use of written prayers. This should come as no surprise being that the author is an Anglican. But his points were taken to heart.

Scripture does seem to exert a power and authority all its own. Its not just the story of God's revelation in history, in many ways it is a way in which God is revealing himself. And when the scriptures are read aloud, there is a way that the Spirit moves that is uniquely different than what happens during a sermon.

As far as prayer goes, I never considered spontaneous prayer arrogant. It's an interesting thought though. In my tradition, written prayers are seen as stale, inauthentic and out of touch with the real world. To pray spontaneously is seen as the only really way to "pray from your heart" in a relational way. But I also see the arrogance in it.

When I read a prayer written by someone in church history, I admit that they articulated my desires and my prayers in a better way than I ever could. In a sense, I submit to their years of praying and their close relationship to the Father and I become a student of prayer. I become like an apprentice who is doing the work himself, yet under the supervision of a master. I pray their words with my voice. Their longings and mine come together in community as I pray with their written requests. So far from being irrelevant, maybe these great written prayers from the past are just what my prayer life needs.

I want to experiment with these two things in the future. I want to try to get creative corporately with scripture readings and I want to be humbled privately with the practice of praying written prayers.


At 10:56 AM, Anonymous John Lunt said...

Scott McKnight has a fine book on prayer called praying with the church. He addresses the importance of written prayers prayed with the church while also acknowledging the importance of spontaneous prayers. It's not one of the other. It's both.

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Yeah, I agree. Both kinds of prayer bring a rich history with them. Too often our own traditions have chosen one over the other.

Do you have any idea what the name of the book is? Also, any idea where I could get a recent book of written historical prayers?(besides the old school Anglican common book of prayer)


Post a Comment

<< Home