Having lived and walked amongst evangelicals for the better part of 20 years now and having identified myself as one of their number, I have come to this disturbing conclusion: as a people, we do not know how to pray.
Moreover, if I am being completely transparent, then I should clearly state that I also am an abject failure when it comes to knowing how to pray. Now there is a great deal more that could be said on this subject, but rather than addressing it as an academic matter, I have simply decided to share some written prayers from two new books that I am using in my own prayer life.
May the words of these saints unlock the imagination of your soul, opening up new ways of talking to the One Who Emptied Himself for the sake of us all.
(on reading Psalm 145:15-16)
We gladly confess:
“The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food
in due season.
You open your hand
satisfying the desire of
every living thing.”
That we gladly and confidently confess –
And yet we notice your creatures
not well fed
but mired in hunger, poverty and despair.
And yet we notice the power of evil
that stalks the best of us
the power of cancer,
the dread of war,
sadness of death –
or cruel death.
And so we pray confidently toward you,
but with footnotes that qualify.
We pray confidently, but we will not deny in your
presence the negatives that
make us wonder.
We pray amid our honest reservations,
give us patience to wait,
impatience to care,
sadness held honestly,
surrounded by joy over your
coming kingdom –
and peace while we wait –
and peace at the last,
that we may be peacemakers
and so your children.
We pray in the name of your firstborn Son, our peacemaker.
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Walter Bruggemann, “On Theodicy” in Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 2008), 69-70.