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At a recent Saturday morning prayer meeting,
a member began his prayer with this opening, “Father, you promised us in Matthew that wherever two or three are gathered in your name, you’d be right there in the middle of ‘em. Well, here we are.” From his tone of voice and inflections it was clear that this was a sincere invitation, not a challenge. I’ve thought about this choice of words many times since first hearing it and it certainly is not in the King James Version.
The words are informal and casual.
It sounds like an exchange between two folks who are well acquainted, like General George S. Patton claimed to be with God. In the movie, he asks a chaplain for a weather prayer. The Catholic Chaplain, Colonel James H. O’Neill, questions the idea of asking God for good weather to kill our fellow man. Patton’s response, “I can assure you that because of my intimate relations with the Almighty, if you write a good prayer, we’ll have good weather.”
Which brings up another question I’ve often considered, namely,
Is extemporaneous prayer better than reading a prayer written by someone else?
History has answered this question, from ancient Hebrew and Irish blessings to the Hail Mary and the queen mother of all prayers, The Lord’s Prayer. How much influence did King James have on those? A quick Google search reveals a number of different translations and interpretations. I even found The Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew.
Eight more versions can be found HERE. That site features the “modern” version of The Lord’s Prayer which was adopted by the Church of England in the 1970s.
Pastors, lay leaders, and other often include…
“Jesus,” “Lord,” “Father,” and “God,” in every sentence of lengthy extemporaneous prayer. Are they driving home the point to whom they pray, or are they trying to make sure they’e got God’s attention? We are reminded in the scriptures God knows what we have need of before we ask, and yet we are also told that if we ask for it, it will be granted. That second part may need some research. I’ve always believed that God answers every prayer, but that sometimes the answer is, “No.” Also, what about a situation in which you and I are both praying for opposing outcomes? (Fodder for a seven minute sermon?)
Finally, I believe that what Dale Carnegie said…
about our communications, is also true with prayer.
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” God not only knows what we need and when we need it, God also can determine our sincerity better than any being anywhere. Our earnest prayers from the heart will be heard. We can read a prayer filled with our own emotions and it matters not who wrote it. We can speak from the depths of our souls with no previous planning and it will be fine. And we can pray silently in any language. I know from experience that God can hear silent prayer just fine, even if a few “thees and thous” sneak in.
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