how we pray.

Recently I have been working through a book entitled Simply Christian, by N.T. Wright. In Wright’s chapter on prayer, he comments on the tremendous value and richness that we have in the history of the Church and its liturgy. He is quoted in brief below, and thus I will let him speak in his own words.

“Help is at hand not least in those who have trodden the path ahead of us. Part of our difficulty here is that we moderns are so anxious to do things our own way, so concerned that if we get help from anyone else our prayer won’t be ‘authentic’ and come from our own heart, that we are instantly suspicious about using anyone else’s prayers. We are like someone who doesn’t feel she’s properly dressed unless she has designed and made all her own clothes; or like someone who feels it’s artificial to drive a car he hasn’t built all by himself. We are hamstrung by the long legacy of the Romantic movement on the one hand, and Existentialism on the other, producing the idea that things are authentic only if they come spontaneously, unbidden, from the depths of our hearts…”

“…Indeed, the idea that I must always find my own words, that I must generate my own devotion from scratch every morning, that unless I think of new words I must be spiritually lazy or deficient – that has the all-too-familiar sign of human pride, of ‘doing it my way’: of yes, works righteousness. Good liturgy – other people’s prayers, whether for corporate or individual use – can be, should be, a sign and means of grace, an occasion of humility (accepting that someone else has said, better than I can, what I deeply want to express) and gratitude.”

N.T. Wright, Simply Christian, pp. 164-6

With that in mind, below is a selection from one of my favorite volumes. It is worth purchasing and reading time and again. It has become a well-loved friend, worn by travel and use. It is entitled Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett. In and out of print for a while, it is now available once more.

O Heavenly Father,

Teach me to see that if Christ has pacified thee and satisfied divine justice

he can also deliver me from my sins;

that Christ does not desire me, now justified,

to live in self-confidence in my own strength,

but gives me the law of the Spirit of life

to enable me to obey thee;

that the Spirit and his power are mine by resting on Christ’s death;

that the Spirit of Life within answers to the law without;

that if I sin not I should thank thee for it;

that if I should I should be humbled daily under it;

that I should mourn for sin more than other men do ,

for when I see I shall die because of sin,

that makes me mourn;

when I see how sin strikes at thee,

that makes me mourn;

when I see that sin caused Christ’s death,

that makes me mourn;

that sanctification is the evidence of reconciliation,

proving that faith has truly apprehended Christ;

Thou has taught me that faith is nothing else than receiving thy kindness;

that it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him,

love clinging to him as a branch to the tree,

to seek life and vigor from him.

I thank thee for showing me the vast difference between knowing things by reason,

and knowing them by the spirit of faith .

By reason I see a thing is so; by faith I know it as it is.

I have seen three by reason and have not been amazed,

I have seen thee as thou art in thy Son and have been ravished to behold thee.

I bless thee that I am thine in my Saviour, Jesus.

‘Belonging to Jesus’, Valley of Vision

how we pray.

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