Is it Ok for Christians to Pray 'Pre-made' Prayers?
- Veronica Neffinger Editor, ChristianHeadlines.com
- 2015 27 Oct
Christians of different denominations and persuasions can become quite vocal in their disagreement on certain subjects, though they ultimately believe in the same Gospel. Whether or not praying “pre-made” prayers is a good practice is an issue that often pits members of the body of Christ against each other.
I initially grew up Catholic, so I am familiar with so-called “pre-made” prayers: prayers that are already printed for you to read as a prayer yourself, perhaps passed down through many generations.
I am also familiar with the portion of Christianity that looks down upon “pre-made” prayers as being too rote, too methodical, and lacking genuine, individual impetus. I was part of an Evangelical Free church for a while, and pre-made prayers were nowhere to be found, whether in Sunday’s morning’s bulletin, Wednesday night Bible study, or in the lives of any of the members.
I have now been attending a Presbyterian (PCA) church for three years, where “pre-made” prayers are a weekly part of Sunday service, and I like to think that I’ve come full circle when it comes to my view on pre-made prayer.
Ultimately, of utmost importance in prayer is always our heart. Whether we are praying an original prayer or a pre-made prayer, our heart should be fully engaged in the words we are uttering.
There is certainly value in spontaneous prayer, prayer directly from your individual heart. As Christians, we have the astounding privilege of coming directly into the presence of our Creator with our own thoughts and words (Hebrews 10:19-23), and we ought to utilize it more often than most of us probably do.
However, I would imagine that there have been multiple times in which you, like me, felt the need to pray, but felt at a loss for words.
John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, stated, “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart,” which is a true sentiment; however, prayers that are already written for us can offer us the words to give voice to the feelings of our heart. Just because someone else has already stated something true does not make it any less true for the second, third, or three thousandth person to express that same sentiment.
That brings us to perhaps the most important point when considering pre-made prayers.
In 21st century America, we as a culture and, I would dare venture, as a church, have lost our sense of community. American culture is fiercely individualistic, and the American church has, in many aspects, adopted that ideology.
While this isn’t all bad, it takes away from the unity Christ meant us to have with all believers, across the globe and throughout history. Praying a prayer that is well-established in the Christian faith, such as a prayer from the Puritan prayerbook, Valley of Vision, an affirmation of belief from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, or a Psalm from the Bible allows us to take part in the one-ness that Jesus speaks about in John 17: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us . . . that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity” (John 17:21-23).
The Bible itself is a veritable goldmine of “pre-made” prayers. In a devotional on Crosswalk.com John UpChurch says, “[T]he Bible is crammed with better prayers than I could ever come up with—ones that fit almost every situation. And, really, that makes sense. After all, God inspired Scripture. These are His prayers to us; they’re gifts of His grace.”
The most fruitful prayers will be the ones in which we are most engaged, the ones in which we pray with our hearts and with our minds.
“Real prayer and real worship require our minds. Don’t switch them off. Don’t let them wander. God deserves our full attention and desires our attentive communication,” says Crosswalk.com contributor Mike Fabarez.
For some people, this may most often take the form of personal, original prayers, but for others, praying the tried and true words originally penned by others may serve better. The two are not mutually exclusive, but each have their time and place.
God calls us to individual relationship and individual prayer; He also calls us to relationship with the entire body of Christ and to corporate prayer, and sometimes the richest prayer time can begin with the realization that another child of God has walked the same path you are walking and felt the same sorrow, pain, joy, and hope you are experiencing.
NOTE: If you ever find yourself not knowing what to pray in a certain situation, keep Crosswalk's PRAYERS page bookmarked for easy access!
Photo courtesy: navalatanjjnn.deviantart.com
Publication date: October 27, 2015
Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com