Two or three times a day John and I say set prayers out loud together from the Episcopalian’s Book of Common Prayer. Reason one for doing this (see previous post) was because we forget- we forget God’s love and God’s instructions. Prayer from God’s word can remind us in ways that prayers we make up about our current concerns can’t.
One of the reactions we get is: “I pray often, but don’t feel a need to be legalistic about it.”
Reason two: Prayer is servant behavior.
“To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Isaiah (45:23 NRSV) This command is very clear and doesn’t appear to be optional. Scripture leaves us with little doubt that Jesus is Lord and is to be acknowledged as Lord.
Paul reinforces this message in Philippians (2:10-11) and Romans (14:11). The confession that “Jesus Christ is Lord” is part of our set prayers; this recognition establishes our human status as servant. We are not to be our own Lord. We are subject to the Lord our God.
But what does this mean exactly? Philippians gives us some instructions. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus” (2:5) and “(He) emptied himself taking on the form of a slave.” (2:7) and “Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others.” (2:3)
We find daily set prayer a way to remember and fulfill these instructions.
When we use set prayers from scripture, saying out loud the word of God, we are “taking on the mind of Jesus.” As we repeat the words we remember. We remember who we are in relation to Jesus and our neighbors; and we remember God’s instructions about those relationships. We are reminded again who God is and how Jesus served with uncompromising humility.
We find it is a light yoke and one that gets easier to bear with practice.