Prayer through creeds and contemporary worship prayers

Prayer through the creedal prayers is much more enriching theologically, historically , and also spiritually too. Spontaneous prayers from our hearts are awesome directly from our hearts.  Charismatic prayers  have been usually spontaneous from the hearts type. The problem of that is it runs dry and out of words after a while. The best solution is to pray the book of psalms, which Tim Keller has written a good book on Prayer.

Anglican church has produced some good prayer books: Compline—a night prayer based on Psalms. They have of course produced the famous comprehensive Book of Common Prayer.

My point is many Christians have lacked the resources to pray deeply, and with charismatics, this is especially lacking. Spontaneous heart prayer is great, but there must be also times of book prayer from our hearts. The thing about it is that, when we read those rich words, essentially mostly from Psalms, we begin to realign our minds to the wonderful, blessed words from Psalms. In fact, I would suggest we pray through the book of psalms daily.

Tim Keller writes: “I believe daily prayer should be more biblical, that is, more grounded in systematic Bible reading and study and in disciplined meditation on passages.”[1] This is combining prayer & daily reading of the Bible together with meditation. Too often we put prayers into the category of “requesting for things from God”, but that will become a shallow way of communicating to God over the long haul. We must pray the word of God on top of our request’s prayers.

Cranmer’s Bible reading plan for the year is no longer in most current Common Prayer books used around the world, but it can be found in reprints of the 1549 and 1552 books. M’Cheyne’s Bible reading calendar, is an example:  In any case, systematic, consecutive reading of the Bible should precede or accompany prayer.[2] We need a systematic reading of the Bible and prayers that go with it. Prayers will come alive with prayers through the book of Psalms and also some of these prayer books.

It is right and necessary that we learn to pray not merely from reading the Psalms and the rest of the Bible but by hearing and reading the prayers of the church. [3] Now this is an important point. Prayers of the church historically which have been laid down by thoughtful theologians and church pastors of the past, are very useful, and many Christians have not even heard of them. It’s time to pick them up. Example: Common book of Prayers.

Keller writers, “Many churches today, especially those with what is called contemporary worship, give congregants almost no help with prayer at all in this way. The only prayers congregants hear are “spontaneous” expressions of worship leaders, or the final prayer of the preacher at the end of the sermon. Time-tested and carefully considered prayers are not provided as they were in times past.” This is definitely very true, coming from a charismatic background myself, I used to find those prayers rigid, mechanical, but now I realize that they are rich spiritually, and theologically, and far more on the line with the Bible, it is definitely something we charismatics have missed out. Only spontaneous prayers worship leaders or final prayer after preaching will not be enough.

Having said that, we must also give room for spontaneous expressions of prayers, and I say, combine the prayers of the books and heart prayers. In fact our heart prayers will be richer spiritually after using more of those common books of prayers.

A Time of Prayer Going through Hard Times

This is a good article Spiritual Formation for Faltering Faith by Wendy Alsup on the power of praying through creeds that help a person going through hard times. The reality is riding on the wisdom and richness of theology written and laid down by the early fathers can really help us especially going through a time of lament and struggle. Christianity is a walk with God of rejoicing and lament. We need to learn to connect with the Lord of Hosts on both!

She writes, “During that same year, Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren suffered the deaths of two babies in pregnancy, along with her beloved father. She lost her ability to see her way through to God as well, overwhelmed by questions of theodicy, God’s providence in it all. As she lost her second baby late in pregnancy, her spiritual formation as an Anglican priest led her to cry out a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer’s service of compline.[4]  

This prayer forms the structure of her second book, Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep:

How beautiful: Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. (ACNA BCP 2019)



[1] Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe & Intimacy, p 247

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Wendy Alsup, Spiritual Formation for Faltering Faith,  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/prayer-in-night-tish-harrison-warren/

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