Is spontaneous prayer the highest and best method of prayer?
A non-liturgical Christian resists written prayer (but not songs) and we don’t tend to easily take advantage of other traditions in the church. As I have discovered the benefit of some of those traditions it’s become apparent how unnecessary such resistance can be. I think I, along with others, had suspected praying set prayers or working your way through a prayer book simply meant you weren’t praying your own ‘real’ prayers. What a pity. I have no problem singing songs which have been worked on and prayed over as the songwriter has poured themselves out onto paper, so why should I balk at praying the prayers of those who have done the same as the songwriter?
I know when I am called upon to sing my own songs, expressing my own heart, then however full my heart, I can find I don’t have the skill necessary to form a beautiful song, not often anyway, when Holy Spirit comes on me in a powerful way then yes I can, but He isn’t a tap to be turned on, He comes and does special things when He chooses. I see the value of written songs, they facilitate worship, they enable me to pour out my full and grateful heart to the one I adore.
Now I have discovered the beauty and value of prayers written by lovers of God from days long past.
I find that on days when I have no time to dwell long, I can use these prayers and soon I am in the flow of a river formed oh so many years ago. A river often ignored, yet still in full flow. A river which can sweep me into a sense of His presence when, left to my own devices, I might be struggling to find the words to express the as yet unformed thoughts of my inner being.
Do I use these prayer every day? well, no, but on a day when time is short and thinking is abbreviated, then they are a rich blessing for me.
I’m thankful God knows my heart and listens to my half-formed thoughts and sometimes half-baked ideas, but I am also grateful that someone took the time to put on paper what I might pray if I was able to think in depth that day. What a mercy it is, not to find myself floundering or inadequate in my words, but slowly to whisper my way through the prayers of a sister or brother who is some place else today, and who, one day I will thank for their work, much as I would thank a worship leader when they have helped me express my heart in song.
If you’d like to explore this aspect of prayer, then Divine Hours by Phylis Tickle is a great tool to use. The link is to a Church website which has the prayers for particular times of the day set out all ready for you. Perhaps you might like to see if you find it helpful.