Welcome to the last stop on the Praying with the Church blog tour.
Ask Christians how their prayer lives are and you may get a variety of answers, but as Scot McKnight points out, all will say it needs improvement. His book, Praying with the Church, is written not only as an encouragement for those who want to engage in a deeper prayer life, but also as a biblical and traditional apologetic for a set, rhythmic prayer life, and the value of praying traditional and scriptural prayers (such as the Lord’s prayer).
A year or two ago a good friend introduced me to a book he was using in his personal devotionals based on the Liturgy of the Hours and I was taken aback by the rich prayers and scripture readings. Adapted a bit, it has brought a refreshing new discipline to my prayer life, and that’s where McKnight’s book comes in. Like me, he was raised in the Christian faith in a church that greatly valued personal, spontaneous prayer, but was a bit leery of the use of pre-written prayers. He shares his study of scripture (such as the examples of David and Jesus’ prayer lives) and Jewish and Christian traditions to show how such practices are not only valid, but also enriching to one’s faith.
I appreciate that he deals early on with one of the chief objections to written prayers I have heard much of my Christian life—that such is prohibited by Matthew 6:7 when Jesus speaks of “vain repetitions”. However, a quick reading of the Psalms, and even your own church’s hymnal will reveal that repetition is not always vain, and such is true in our prayers as well. Vanity, after all, is an issue of the heart, not of the pen. I have found the use of such prayer and scripture readings challenge me in a way very similar to good teaching/preaching and good singing in the church. I have been humbled in the middle of reciting such prayers because they help me to remember works of God and people who need our prayer that I may have, quite honestly, neglected. Some days, it is as though a brother or sister is saying, "James, don't forget to pray for x." And I need that. We need that. That's why a sister recently shared with me that she prays through the Psalms, learning from David (a man after God's own heart, after all) how to pray.
Here’s another thing: when I read of David up late in prayer, or of Jesus up early in prayer, or of Daniel’s practice of praying toward Jerusalem three times daily, I yearn to have such a devotion and regular times of resting in the peace of God’s presence in my own life. If you do too, then I think you will find Praying with the Church to be helpful indeed. McKnight has written well a challenging and practical approach to daily prayer with the church.
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Purchase Scot McKnight’s Praying With The Church and McKnight’s best selling book The Jesus Creed and you will receive your copy of The Jesus Creed for free! Reference coupon code PRBLOG and call 1-800-451-5006 or order on-line. (when ordering on-line you must enter both books on the order)