Speaking to God through A Guidebook to Prayer
- Tuesday, November 19, 2013
In the Jewish tradition, psalms are prayed aloud. The faithful stand as individuals together in worship and surrounded by all the faithful throughout time. There is a very present nature to prayer and also a timeless aspect. Those from the beginning and millions since David have prayed the psalms. And into the future, people will pray these prayers. Saying written prayers such as the psalms or prayers written by faithful men and women in the past has several advantages.
First, we become part of the great community of faithful from the Old Testament people to Jesus to today. We are not alone or isolated. We also become part of the community of faithful all around the world in every country and tongue. We might not understand their words, but when we say psalms together we are saying the same words for that day. Second, we are challenged to pray things we might not normally pray.
The psalms cover the full gamut of human experiences. Some we would rather avoid. Some psalms we love and others cause discomfort. By praying all the psalms we are stretched by God’s Word and we allow God to teach us and shape us. Many of the psalms shift from lament to praise. We are invited to experience all the emotions and challenges of our humanity such as betrayal, illness, confession, anger, pleading and thanksgiving. Praying prayers written by the faithful connects us to God and each other.
Community Prayer Guidelines
- The term community prayer is also referred to as “liturgical” prayer. Liturgical prayers are written prayers used by a community of believers to connect together to God.
- The phrase liturgical prayers can suggest to people staleness and ritualism without faith. However, praying authentically in this manner is personal and full of meaning. These prayers require a sincere desire to enter into God’s presence together.
- The psalms, prayers written by saints or prayers written for special occasions by participants are all possible forms of liturgical prayers. They invite us into common human experiences.
- Liturgical prayers are often assigned to specific days of the year with Scripture verses and sometimes meditations.
- These prayers can be said privately, but the backdrop is people everywhere using the same prayers to come together with God. The point is to experience God together. The purpose is to remember God throughout our days.
- All aspects of our life are brought to God, and the prayers remind us of God’s sovereignty and goodness. The psalms and written prayers protect us from hyperindividualism, which can create God in our own image.
- Community prayers are prayers of trust that God is good, present and yearns to be with us.
- Community prayers are especially helpful when one is struggling with despair, ill health or difficult circumstances. The community of the faithful surrounds us.
Community Prayer Experience
- In the Talmud it reads, “Whoever recites Psalm 145 three times a day is assured of a place in the time to come.” This doesn’t mean that saying the psalm saves us, but that the words are so powerful they remind us over and over about the true character of God, and thus we are changed.
- Instructions: The group leader prepares a handout with the Shema and Psalm 145 printed out so everyone has a copy. Explain the prayer before experiencing it.
- Everyone stands with feet together facing in the same direction. (If you desire, you can face toward Jerusalem to remember the land and place where God led the chosen and where Jesus came in the flesh.)
- Begin by reciting together the Shema (a central prayer for the Jews and a declaration of faith in one God). A partial version is below (Deut 6:4-9).
Sh’ma Yisrael - Hear, O, Israel
Adonai Elohaynu - Adonai is our God
Adonai Echad - Adonai is one
Baruch Shem - Holy One of Blessing
Kavod malchuto - Your Presence radiates glory
l’olam va-ed - now and forever
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