Home > Brian's Blogs, Prayer > Stealing Prayers, part 5

Stealing Prayers, part 5

Last week we discussed the benefits (and some pitfalls) of praying other people’s prayers.  Today I want to provide a practical example of what that looks like using the Lord’s Prayer.

Here is a method from Mark Thibodeaux, author of Armchair Mystic: Easing Into Contemplative Prayer.  He provides a format that is actually a combination of his first two stages in the evolution of prayer: talking at God and talking to God:

  1. I pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly and reverently three times.
  2. I choose one phrase within the prayer to reflect on.  I ask myself, “Who is God in this phrase?”  For example, in the phrase, “Give us this day our daily bread,” my answer might be “God is provider.”  If so, then what does God provide?  Why does he provide it?  How much does he provide?  When does he provide?  Or in the phrase, “Your kingdom come,” I might say, “God is king.”  If so, what kind of king is he?  What would it be like if his kingdom came?  Or has it already come? And if so, how?  How has it not?  Why has it not?
  3. I go back over the phrase, asking myself, “Who am I in this phrase?”  In the daily bread phrase, I might say, “I am hungry.”  If so, then what am I hungry for?  Why am I hungry?  How will I be fed?  In the kingdom phrase, I might say, “I am God’s subject.”  If so, then what does my King expect of me?  What do I expect of my King?  How far will I go in service to him?  How loyal am I?  How loyal do I want to be?  What other kings am I tempted to serve?
  4. Some phrases work better than others.  I use the ones that work and skip the ones that don’t.  I take as much or little time as I want with any given phrase.  If things are going really well, perhaps I will want to dedicate a whole prayer time to just one phrase that is meaningful to me.

There are a few things to notice in this method:

  • It resembles Martin Luther’s use of the Lord’s Prayer.  What would he think if he knew that the Roman Catholic Jesuits were praying the same way?
  • It resembles lectio divina in meditating on a phrase and taking it to prayer.
  • It is much different from simply reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or being able to explain what the Lord’s Prayer means but never personalize it.  In this manner, Thibodeaux’s method is very formative.

There have been a number of times on my morning walks when I’ve had difficulty praying so I resorted to praying the Lord’s Prayer in this manner.  I have to admit that I have found it very beneficial.

Thibodeaux has several other methods of praying other people’s prayers, including the use of Christian hymns such as Amazing Grace or books of the Bible such as the Psalms.  If you want to read them, you’ll just have to buy the book yourself.

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