1 John 5:14-15 - And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.
I'm a collector of prayer books. It's not that I planned to be a collector of such books, but when I hear a new prayer which seems to speak for me I try to find its source and buy the book. I must admit that I don't use the prayer books often. I usually end up speaking my own prayers because they say what I want to say to the Lord.
I know prepared and printed prayers are necessary, especially for public praying. Some of the more contemporary prayer collections have dropped some of those words such a "Paraclete" (Greek: the Holy Spirit as advocate or counselor), and the collections also avoid well-worn phrases such as "whose justice metes out the wages of death." Some of the collects, a word which still sometimes needs explanation (a short general prayer), carry embellished language. For example, "Holy Spirit, Elector of grace, filler of hearts, Producer of the righteous life." I hasten to add that I am in favor of finding new words and all the ways in which our language can show praise to the Lord and His goodness to us.
But it seems to me that we could do with a greater portion of speaking from the heart about the needs and concerns of people even in public prayer. Some praying appears to be "safe." Such prayers concern marriages, deaths, illness, hospitalization, thanks for babies, and relief from illness, festival days in honor of the saints.
But I wonder if the time will ever come when we prayer for husbands and wives who quarrel, who are separated, for families torn by strife, for couples about to be divorced, for children who rebel, for people who have financial difficulties, for men and women who are tempted, for drunkards and those addicted to drugs, work, or gambling. Why not prayers for people who have a difficult time making it through a day because all kinds of little burdens and cares seem to overwhelm and sap every ounce of energy?
I suppose I know why we have no such public prayers for such conditions of mankind. People would feel awkward to be named with such a condition. It still isn't done except in some very general prayer. The situation is just too private. And yet it is just such conditions and circumstances which need the prayer support of all God's people in a church. Might some separating couple avoid divorce if the church would pray publicly for that couple?
Until this can happen in public prayer, we'll need to intensify our private praying to include those people whom we know have needs and problems -- using the prayer power available to us as personal priests.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, open our mouths to pray in earnest for those concerns that are obvious and real in our lives, knowing You hear our words and attend to our needs. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, January 1983 issue, by Jon Suel
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