Thursday, 19 November 2009

Writing your own prayers

A friend and I read through Psalm 55 last week.  I wondered whether we should learn not just the content (of the rich theology) but also the method (of turning our thoughts to God and writing them down).  We decided to each write out a prayer to God, like the Puritans used to do.  Here is mine.  It only took a couple of minutes.  Let me say that I am no poet and I did not write it to be shared, but I found expanding my thoughts really useful.  A particularly large financial decision looms behind this prayer.

Father, have mercy on me.
The fog overwhelms me
The burdens outweigh me
The sin infests me
But you are my light
And in you there is no darkness at all
Father, have mercy on me.

The lions are within me
The devil is against me
The accusations are inside me
But you are my comforter
And in Christ there is lasting peace
Father, have mercy on me.

Am I about to do something foolish?
Am I about to do something worldly?
Am I about to do something that will count against me?
Or am I doing what is right?
Am I being wise?
Am I providing for my own?
Guard my heart and my head
Father, have mercy on me.

Give me a love for your saints
Give me a love for the lost
And give me a love for you.

Fix my eyes on the one who calls me
Turn my ears to the one who teaches me
Use my hands for the one who died for me
And use my life for the one who gave me his.

Anything wrong
Anything I hold back
Anything hidden and secret that repulses you
Anything that turns my heart from you.

Painfully remove from me
Father, have mercy on me.


Pete said...

Hey Andrew,
without the chance to read Psalm 55 at the moment, I was wondering what the thinking is behind writing down yours prayers instead of just saying them. Is this so you are able to use it again and again over a few days/weeks to be making the same prayers, or perhaps a way of being able to look back at it in the future and seeing how it has been answered.


Andrew Barry said...

Hi Pete,
Great to have you commenting!
I suppose you could write down prayers for two reasons:

1. So that you can remember the particular things you prayed for so that you can refer to them later


2. So that you can expand your prayers and your meditation on God beyond the "shopping list" or shallow type of prayers to which we sometimes default.

I'm mainly trying to do the latter. David's Psalms are not so much shopping lists, but rather big theological reflections on particular situations.

Andrew Barry said...

PS. If someone is going through hard times, I wonder whether it may be helpful for them to write out their prayer.

Di said...

Andrew, I agree, it can be a very helpful practice and even more so in hard times.

Thanks for this post.