Growing up, we rarely read prayers. Whether or not the adults around me intended this message, I thought scripted prayers were somehow less sincere and meaningful. It was as if to be genuine, prayers had to be extemporaneous.
Fast forward to my years in college, when I found myself sitting in the pews of an Anglican church plant. The services were structured with liturgy that has been used for hundreds of years, and I prayed prayers which have remained largely the same for generations. Quite the comical change of habit, isn’t it?
It was at this church that I discovered that sincerity does not necessitate spontaneity. Pre-written prayers and liturgy can be meaningful worship and bring us to the presence of the Lord. I also realized that echoing prayers written by others gave me words to pray during a season in which I was so emptied I didn’t know what to pray. Their words gave me a voice to cry out to God in honesty and in faith.
Since then, I have continued to incorporate written prayers into my times with the Lord. I want to share one with you, which has been on my mind this week. It comes from one of my favorite books of prayers, A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie.
For this new day I give You humble thanks: for its gladness and its brightness: for its long hours waiting to be filled with joyous and helpful labor: for its open doors of possibility: for its hope of new beginnings. Quicken in my heart, I beseech You, the desire to avail myself richly of this day’s opportunity. Let me not break faith with any of yesterday’s promises, nor leave unrepaired any of yesterday’s wrongs. Let me see no fellow traveler in distress and pass by on the other side. Let me leave no height of duty behind me unattempted, nor any evil habit unassaulted. Where deed of mine can help to make this world a better place for men to live in, where word of mine can cheer a despondent heart or brace a weak will, where prayer of mine can serve the extension of Christ’s Kingdom, there let me do and speak and pray.