I have spent pretty much my entire life following (or at least trying to) Jesus. Until about two months ago however, I had never prayed a fixed or written prayer to God. I imagine most of you reading this post are similar to me in that you have not prayed fixed prayers either. I read a book recently entitled Praying With The Church by Scot McKnight that greatly assisted me in understanding what praying fixed prayers is all about. I want to recommend this book to you. I had many reasons why I believed praying fixed prayers would not be beneficial or might even be detrimental to my faith. McKnight addresses these questions and concerns. Concerns like â€œif I pray fixed prayers wonâ€™t that suck the life or genuineness out of my conversational prayers.â€ Here is a quote from the McKnightâ€™s book that speaks to questions like that:
â€œThis book is designed to help you learn how to use the great prayer books of the Church. It is not designed to eliminate spontaneous prayers but to complement that kind of prayer with the inclusive, beautiful prayers that the Church has prayed for centuries.
If you want to pray better, I can think of no better way than to learn to pray with the Church by using its prayer books. Certainly, we need to pray whatever is on our heart, when we want to â€“ that is spontaneous prayer. But, the Church has also prayed together, and this book encourages us to learn to pray also with the church.â€
â€“ Praying With The Church (pages 18-19)
McKnight points out that Jesus prayed fixed prayers. He participated in the prayer life of his people, such as praying the Psalms and reciting the Shema twice a day. The correlation is obvious â€“ if Jesus prayed fixed prayers along with his spontaneous prayers with the Father, it is a good thing for us, his followers, to practice.
Most fixed prayers come word for word directly from the Bible. We memorize the Bible, sing songs that quote the Bible, and study the Bible. Why not pray the Psalms and other selected portions of the Bible?
I have been using the book Face to Face (Volume One) by Kenneth Boa for the last several mornings. The book is a wonderful tool for me. Each morning I spend time praying Scriptures to assist me with adoration, confession, renewal, petition, intercession, affirmation, and thanksgiving. Following each section of fixed prayers, Boa encourages you, the person in prayer, to follow that section with spontaneous prayers. Here are a few selected sections from this morning:
Lord my God, You are God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. You execute justice for the fatherless and the widow, and You love the alien, giving him food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:17-18)
My soul magnifies You, Lord,
Any my spirit rejoices in You, my Savior,
For You, O mighty One, have done great things for me,
And holy is Your name.
Your mercy is on those who fear You,
From generation to generation. (Luke 1:46-47, 49-50)
Pause to express your thoughts of praise and worship.
Let me hear Your unfailing love in the morning,
For I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way I should walk,
For to You I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8)
Pause here to petition God to help you be a faithful steward of your time, talents, possessions, and relationships. Offer prayers of petition regarding your activities for this day and any special concerns you may have.
Lord, may I honor all people, love the community of believers, fear You, and honor the King. (1 Peter 2:17)
Take a few moments to intercede on behalf of your local, state or provincial, and national governments. Pray for spiritual revival in the nation and offer prayers regarding current events and concerns.
– Face to Face (pages 28-29)
That should give you a little taste of what the book is like. There are other prayer books like this one out there Iâ€™m sure are just as beneficial. This one just seems to be great for someone like me just getting started in the fixed prayer world.
From a personal standpoint, I have really embraced and resonated with this. I pray spontaneous prayers all day long. I have not replaced my spontaneous prayers with lifeless, ritualistic, and meaningless prayers, but have enhanced my prayer life by praying prayers David, Jesus, and followers of Christ have been praying for centuries.