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Hating Prayer and Searching for a Solution

9 November, 2009

IMG_1294If you are like me, you probably struggle to pray every day. I must confess that most of the reason why I do not pray more frequently is that I hate my own prayers, especially when I pray out loud with my family. When I do pray, my prayers are often unfocused, redundant, shallow, way too long, and littered with too many “uhs” and “ums.”  One of the things that I enjoyed about my time at Westminster Seminary California was some exposure to reading powerful and thoughtful prayers, but my se is that most people find the practice of reading prayers to be unwholesome, impious, formulaic, and cold-hearted. Without spontaneity people often argue that the Spirit is inhibited.

However, I think that the very practice produces the opposite outcome. Most who complain about written prayers have not practiced it. I used to be one of those people. They just assume a priori that it could not possibly be conducive to spirituality. For some time now, I have been looking for biblically saturated prayers that would help me to cultivate a prayerful life like Scripture commands. Today I picked up The Genevan Book of Order, and in the back, there is a form of prayers to be used in private houses for families every morning and evening.  The practice of reading prayers (alone and with your family) is a remedy to the problem of a weak pray life. In an effort to revive the practice of reading prayers, I want to share with you a morning prayer from the The Genevan Book of Order (abridged and modernized, p. 95-98). If you struggle with praying consistently, you should try reading this every morning for a week. I bet even in your more spontaneous prayers, you will notice an improvement. Pay special attention to the biblical allusions.

Morning Prayer

Almighty God and most merciful Father, we do not present ourselves here before your Majesty trusting in our own merits or worthiness, but in your manifold mercies (Dan. 9:18), which have promised to hear our prayers and grant our requests which we shall make to you in the name of your beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord (John 16:23-24): who also commands us to assemble ourselves together in his name (Matt. 18:20), with full assurance that he will not only be among us, but also be our Mediator and Advocate towards your Majesty (1 Tim. 2:5), that we may obtain all things which shall seem expedient to your blessed will for our necessities (1 John 3:22). Therefore, we beseech you, most merciful Father, to turn your loving countenance towards us, and impute not unto us our manifold sins and offences (Ps. 32:1-2), whereby we justly deserve your wrath and sharp punishment, but rather receive us to your mercy for Jesus Christ’s sake, accepting his death and passion as just recompense for all our offenses (1 John 2:1-2), in whom only you are pleased, and through whom you cannot be offended with us. And seeing that by your great mercies we have quietly passed this night, grant, O heavenly Father, that we spend and bestow this day wholly in your service, so that all our thoughts, words, and deeds may redound to the glory of your name (Col. 3:17), and good example to all men, who seeing our good works may glorify you, our heavenly Father. And forasmuch as of your mere benevolence and love you have not only created us to your own similitude and likeness (Gen. 1:27), but also have chosen us to be heirs with your dear Son Jesus Christ of that immortal kingdom which you have prepared for us before the beginning of the world: we beseech you to increase our faith and knowledge (Luke 17:5), and to lighten our hearts with your Holy Spirit, that we may in the meantime live in godly conversation and integrity of life: knowing that idolaters, adulterers, covetous men, contentious persons, drunkards, gluttons, and such like, shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).

And because you have commanded us to pray for one another, we do not only make request, O Lord, for ourselves and them whom you have already called to the true understanding of your heavenly will, but for all people and nations of the world (Acts 10:35; 1 Tim. 2:4), who as  they know by your wonderful works that you are God over all, so they may be instructed by your Holy Spirit to believe in you, their only Savior and Redeemer. But forasmuch they cannot believe except they hear, nor they cannot hear but by preaching, and none can preach except they are sent: therefore O Lord, raise up faithful distributors of your mysteries, who setting apart all worldly respects, may both in their life and doctrine only seek your glory. Contrarily confound Satan, Antichrist (Rom. 16:20), with all hirelings and Papists, whom you have already cast off into a reprobate sense, that hey may not by sects, schisms, heresies, and errors, disquiet your little flock.

And because, O Lord, we have fallen into the latter days and dangerous times, wherein ignorance has got the upper hand (2 Tim. 3:1ff.), and Satan with his ministers seek by all means to quench the light of your gospel, we beseech you to maintain your cause against those ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15), and strengthen all your servants, whom they keep in prison and bondage. Let not your long-suffering be an occasion either to increase their tyranny or to discourage your children; neither let our sins and wickedness be a hindrance to your mercies, but with speed, O Lord, consider these great miseries.

Grant us, dear Father, these requests, and all other things necessary for us, and your whole church, according to your promise in Jesus Christ our Lord: in whose name we beseech you as you have taught us saying, “Our father, in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matt. 6).”


  1. 10 November, 2009 2:35 am

    Take a look at this prayer before a sermon by Pastor Gervase Nicholas Edward Charmley.

    After I transcribed this prayer from his mp3 and blogged it, Charmley pointed out that a lot of his prayers came from the old liturgies and suggested we could benefit from their study. I agree.

  2. Olivia Smith permalink
    12 November, 2009 4:31 am

    Thank you for the encouraging words Josh!

  3. 12 November, 2009 11:39 pm

    “The Genevan Book of Order” goes in the shopping cart. Reminds me of Hywel Jones’ unwritten prayers.


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