Thursday, March 03, 2011

Learning 2.0 Pray

Would you help me collate a resource of simple prayers?

I am reflecting on prayer.  Prayer is foundational for accessing relationship with our Father, and the things of the kingdom.  When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, the pattern he gives them reveals that our Father wants to enter into dialogue with us about his character, his kingdom, his provision, his forgiveness, his guidance, and his deliverance.

My observation – which I want to test and weigh – is that these six areas of dialogue lend themselves to six times of stillness through the course of the day, somewhat akin to the monastic hours:

The Father’s character: before sunrise; before the start of the day [1]

The Father’s kingdom: at sunrise; the start of the day

The Father’s provision: at noon; at the heart of the day

The Father’s forgiveness: at the end of the working day / the evening meal [2]

The Father’s guidance: at dusk; going into the dark

The Father’s deliverance: at night; in darkness

What I would like to collate is at least one simple prayer for each of the six times/themes.  The kind of prayer I am hoping to find is very simple, a well-worn pebble I can tumble in my mind which might wear other thoughts smooth; tested by time, rather than spontaneous.  As examples:

“Father, Father, holy Father; Father, Father, righteous Father” (a very simple prayer based on the six times Jesus addresses his Father in the high priestly prayer of John 17 – on character)

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (a prayer turned over, meditated upon, by Russian Orthodox priests as they walked from place to place – on forgiveness)

[1] When this is will vary throughout the course of the year, at this latitude; but I often awake around 5am, which may be a sign of age...

[2] It seems to me that the end of the working day is an appropriate moment to stop to ask for, receive, and extend forgiveness: for the things in which we have fallen short; the things we have left undone that ought not to have been left undone; the ways in which we have been wounded by the action or inaction of others.  But I am also struck by the different attitude towards our need for forgiveness displayed by Jesus, and my Anglican tradition.  In Anglican prayer, confession and absolution is up front and central: as if we have no right to come to God in prayer, and this needs to be dealt with before we can.  As opposed to believing that it is our right to come - given us by the Father in adopting us as his children; given us by the Son in reconciling us to God through his birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, ongoing intercession, and promise of his future return; given us by the Holy Spirit in raising us with Christ from spiritual death to spiritual life.  In the pattern of prayer Jesus gives us, forgiveness comes four-sixths of the way through.  I don’t see it as a list of diminishing importance; but forgiveness doesn’t seem to be the starting-point.  As Jesus put it elsewhere, in a culture where open sandals were worn, if you had a bath and then walked round to your friend’s house, you will need to have your feet washed, but you don’t need another bath.


  1. Alastair2:42 pm

    About to launch into a few weeks on prayer with my confirmation groups at St. Cuthberts. it sounds like what would work for you are some of the Taize chants.
    For the beginning of the day:
    Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God's holy name.
    Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads me into life.
    Re the Kingdom of God:
    The Kingdom of God is justice and peace,
    and joy in the Holy Spirit.
    Come Lord and open in us,
    the gates of Your kingdom.
    Re the Father's provision
    In the Lord I'll be ever thankful,
    in the Lord I will rejoice.
    Look to God, do not be afraid, lift up your voices, the Lord is near. Lift up your voices the Lord is near.
    For forgiveness:
    Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
    Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.
    For the Father's guidance:
    Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.
    Wait for the Lord, keep watch, take heart.
    There is a beautiful prayer in the Westcott order for Compline which fits your prayer for deliverance:
    Lighten our darkness, Lord, we pray; and in your mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for hte love of your only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Alternatively the Nunc Dimittis would also fit that theme.
    The only other comment i'd make is that not all of the Anglican tradition places forgiveness at the front end of the liturgy. In the Anglican Church of Canada it is placed nearer the Eucharistic prayer which, interestingly, is about 2/3's the way through the service! The Canadian Eucharist starts with the Grace!
    Hope that helps,
    Yours in faith and gratitude,

  2. Alastair - thank you so much - what a great first response - these are the kind of prayers I was hoping for.

    Also good to hear that not all Anglican tradition re prayer is quite so...Tudor as the Church of England's :-)