Turn with Me to Your Next Prayer
by John UpChurch
According to Hollywood, most funerals should include the pastor intoning the morbid notes of the twenty-third Psalm. All the black around the pastor makes it seem that much more depressing. Usually, there’s rain.
But there are two things about this that strike me as odd. First, Psalm 23 isn’t depressing. Yes, it mentions the “shadow of death,” but it’s chock full of hope and paths of righteousness ... and oil pouring over heads. You can’t be depressed when oil’s dripping down your nose … at least in biblical terms.
Second, I don’t really hear people pray from the Bible. Sure, they toss in a verse or two about being “more than conquerors” or “God working all things for our good.” But I’ve never seen a pastor reach for Psalm 23 or any Psalm for that matter when praying in public.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve heard plenty of great prayers from pastors and other believers. Some of them have hit home hard. But it seems as if Evangelicals especially are averse to anything that isn’t somehow unique when it comes to praying. It’s as if we think that just praying from the Bible isn’t quite spiritual enough. We have to say something original.
Honestly, that’s too bad. Because the 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.
In the Psalms alone, there are prayers for depression, loss, fear, moments when you just gotta praise … it’s like an encyclopedia of prayers. Just dial up a Psalm, and you’ve got a template for expressing what may have seemed inexpressible a few moments earlier.
Now, I’m not saying we should reject all original prayer-making. I’m just saying that there’s no reason to ignore the Bible as a source for some pretty great prayers. We don’t always have to come up with something original when God gave us His own Word to pray from. These prayers are creative for you creative types; passionate for those who like passion; and orderly for those of you who like things with three main points.
Just make sure that you aren’t praying the Psalms like those pastors in the movies. Put some heart behind it.
Intersecting Faith & Life: God’s interest in our prayer is that we spend time giving Him everything we’ve got. It’s easy to think that we have to have the right words—or that prayer is a test of our creativity. But it’s really a test of our hearts.
There are no original words … nothing new under the sun. Using the Bible as a prayer manual isn’t a cop out; it’s brilliant. Who better to teach us how to pray than God? Start there and see how well God’s Word fits the problems you face. Then, if you still need to wax poetic, you can do that, too.