Whether it is Lent, or any other part of the Church calendar, Christians have used prepared prayers as an aid in prayer. Today, and in the coming days, I will post a prayer that I, and hosts of other among people of God, have prayed. But, first a very quick word about prepared prayers.
I grew up in a very low-church setting, and genuine prayer, it was thought, was of the “spontaneous” kind. Scot McKnight, in his book titled Praying with the Church, described this kind of prayer as individual prayer or praying off in the corner alter within a basilica. I was taught that this kind of prayer was the only real kind of prayer, or at least the most effective. For so many reasons, I find that to be a sad and lamentable opinion. Nevertheless, McKnight addresses this other form of prayer calling it “praying with the Church”- or praying within the larger basilica. It is in this kind of praying that we are actually praying with the Church globally and historically.
Prepared prayers, as opposed to “spontaneous” prayers, have several advantages, not to suggest that they both not have the advantages and disadvantages. The theology of the prepared prayer has been vetted, so to speak. This is important for how often in my personal mumblings have I said or requested something in some way that was ultimately not good for me or others. Additionally, these prayers routinely draw me into praying for something or in some way that I otherwise would not have naturally or “spontaneously” prayed on my own. Lastly, “spontaneous” prayer, if we are honest, is often not that spontaneous, for we are liturgical creatures. In time, we develop habits, patterns, and routines to our prayer life – some good and some not so good. So, both types of prayer, individual prayer and “praying with the Church,” are helpful and useful guides in developing a more robust prayer life.
To that end, here is the first prayer I offer us today during this season of Lent. Today’s prayer is particularly appropriate for Lent as we look forward and meditate upon the one who redeems.
“Blessed be Thou, O Lord, our God and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, the great, the mighty, and the fearful God—God Most High—who bestowest goodly kindnesses, and art the Creator of all, and rememberest the love for the Fathers and bringest a redeemer for their children’s children for the sake of Thy name in love. King, Helper, Savior, and Shield; blessed be Thou, Shield of Abraham.”