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The Liturgy of the Hours. The Book of Common Prayer. These are tools that Christian tradition has passed down to us and go largely unused by the majority of the church today.

Prayer books have been compiled through the centuries and are filled with great prayers written by saints from long ago and used worldwide to pray in unison. They are remarkably powerful and devastatingly deceptive, all at the same time.

The Power and Danger in Common Prayer

When we join together in praying communal prayers, the unison of soul and mind is powerful. God hears our prayers, especially when we join together in crying out. Liturgical prayers (those that are written out and recited) are a means for us to be on the same page and they are a very practical reminder to pray. One of the biggest hindrances to prayer is just simply remembering to pray. James 4:2 tells us that we “do not have because we do not ask.” Liturgical prayers, once we memorize them, require no memory to get started praying them.

I say “get started” because liturgical prayers should not mostly be an end in themselves. They should cause us to engage with God, not just say words in the air to check off a box that we did something. That is where liturgical prayers can be devastating to our walk with God. Anytime we do something “religiously” as an end in itself, we have stripped whatever that was of its power.

Do you have a regular prayer time that you keep religiously, but you never actually spend time speaking to God? Many prayer times involve people talking about their prayer requests with each other for 95% of the time and 5% actually praying. We cannot pray liturgical prayers as our means of connecting to God, but as our entry into connecting with Him. Think of them like saying “hello” on the phone. “Hello” is not a conversation, but we almost always begin them with it or something similar.

When we use these tools to propel us toward engaging with God, they are infinitely powerful. They can remind us to pray, draw us into unison in our corporate prayers and cause us to leap into more consistent engagement (conversation) with God. They can be immensely powerful when used right.

Nathan’s Prayer

When my wife found out she was pregnant with our first child, I decided I wanted to pray every evening for him before bed. I knew then that the biggest hindrance to that would be having to come up with something to pray when I was tired. If I had to come up with words every day I knew I’d most likely forget and eventually stop trying, so I devised a short, but powerful and heart-felt prayer.

“Lord, I ask that you would bless little Nathan. I ask that he would come to know You from a young age and follow you all the days of his life without ever turning to the right or to the left. I ask that you would put angels around him and protect him from any plans of the enemy to harm him. Amen.”

I began softly praying that prayer every night over my son in the womb and continued every day after he was born for three months. When he was three months old we took him to our church to have him dedicated. At the dedication, our pastor, Jack Deere, prayed one thing over one child, one thing over another and then he came to Nathan. He placed his hand on Nathan’s head and began to pray:

“Lord, I ask that you would bless little Nathan. I ask that he would come to know You from a young age and follow you all the days of his life without ever turning to the right or to the left. I ask that you would put angels around him and protect him from any plans of the enemy to harm him. Amen.”

Jack didn’t pray one single word different than my prayer. He said it word for word; verbatim. I stood there too shocked to think or feel anything. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. I later asked Jack if that was a common prayer he prayed at dedications. He said no, that he just prayed for Nathan what came to him. He didn’t feel prophetic at all, he was just praying the words on his tongue. To this day this is one of the most tender things the Lord has ever done for me.

That liturgical prayer is one of the most powerful in my life that I pray every night over all my children. I am reminded each time I pray of God’s promise to me that He heard my prayer and cared enough to recite it back to me at Nathan’s dedication. Even when I pray it in a hurry, it moves my spirit.

Biblical Prayers

There is no more powerful liturgical prayer than the one we can have confidence God really cares about. Taking our prayers from or basing them on scripture is one way to have that confidence. Many of the prayers in prayer books are just such prayers. You may find them helpful in your prayer life.

One prayer that I have begun calling people to is what I call the 7:14 prayer. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God promised to Solomon something that is just as true today in America:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

The prayer goes like this:

Lord, have mercy on America and Your church for our wickedness. Give us humility and raise up a praying church to seek Your face. Forgive us and heal our land. Amen.

Prayer

Would you join me in praying this prayer every day over America at 7:14 am and 7:14 pm? Let it spur you on to remember to pray that God would heal our land and send us revival that we would turn back to Him. You can find out more about this specific prayer at 714Prayer.org. You can also find the two books I mentioned earlier, the Book of Common Prayer and the Liturgy of the Hours at Amazon.com. (this is not an endorsement that everything in them I agree with–only that they have been helpful to many throughout history for energizing their prayer lives)

What about you? Do you have any liturgical prayers you use to inspire your prayer time? Sound off in the comments below.

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