The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

My Three Best Prayer Hacks: #2

Posted on: March 01, 2016

Prayer Hacks #2.001

PRAYING WRITTEN PRAYERS REPEATEDLY IS MY SECOND PRAYER HACK

Hack: an unexpected solution to a tricky problem.

Last week I shared my first prayer hack, which was praying with my wife. It wasn’t until we began praying together that I developed a consistent and satisfying level of intercessory prayer. But prayer is more than just intercession. And today I want to share my second prayer hack that I use during my personal prayer time, which is “praying written prayers repeatedly” for the purpose of deepening my praise of and relationship with the Lord, which I have been doing for many years.

At first, I resisted the idea of praying written prayers. Somehow, it seemed like cheating, or cutting corners. However, as I began to read of great saints of the past who prayed written prayers, I became more open to the idea. At about the same time, I began to learn the concept of praying Scripture back to God. So I combined the two ideas, as many others have done, and developed the habit of writing prayers that were mostly adaptations of Scripture, and praying them back to God. It seemed like I could hardly go wrong praying God’s word back to him.

Having at first resisted the idea of written prayers because it seemed like it was cheating, three observations eventually sold me on it:

  1. My “spontaneous” prayers were often shallow and incomplete. During those times when I was inspired and motivated to pray, my prayers had reasonable breadth and depth. However, I would eventually cycle out of those times of inspiration, and prayer became hard work. It often became rushed. Distracted, my prayers would shrink and thin out, and become mindlessly repetitious…very shallow. By writing out prayers that were mostly Scripture, and which followed the overall outline in The Lord’s Prayer, I was able to pray broader, deeper, more satisfying prayers. I change those prayers up from time to time, to reflect greater understanding and to add variety.
  2. Written prayers began to change me. I found that, by praying the same Scripture-based prayer over and over again, the prayers began to change me. As we have seen in other blogs, repetition has a powerful influence on the brain, as well as the heart. As we repeat the same thoughts over and over again, those thoughts begin to wear a four-lane highway in our brain, changing the brain in the direction of those thoughts. It occurred to me that not only were my Scripture-based prayers valid prayers in and of themselves, but they were also powerful neurological reconditioning agents, affecting my brain in much the same way as memorizing and meditating upon Scriptures does.
  3. Written prayers make it possible to pray when I don’t feel like praying. There are times when we may be so distracted, so weary, so hurting, that substantive “spontaneous” prayer is somewhere between difficult and impossible. With a written prayer, I can grab myself by the nape of my spiritual neck and haul myself into prayer even when it is hardest to pray. These three observations are so powerful that I gladly pray some prayers for years.

I thought you might be interested to see my “opening” prayer. It is modeled generally on the pattern in the Lord’s Prayer. You will perhaps recognize a loose pattern of the well-known “ACTS” acrostic-type prayer of Adoration/Praise, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. After praying this, I go on to other written prayers, leading me into other facets of prayer, which may include a time if Intercession. Also, I do pray prayers that are not written. But this is how I always begin. If you find it helpful, feel free to use it as your own prayer, or to revise it in ways that are helpful to you.

Father in Heaven,

 This is a day which You have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24), and may Your joy be my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Satisfy me in the morning with Your lovingkindness that I may sing for joy and be glad all my days (Psalm 90:14).

 Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:22-24)

 I have sinned and come short of Your glory. (Romans 3:23) But if I confess my sin, You are faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9) Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever. (Psalm 86:12)

 And I will live by faith today (Romans 1:17) because without faith it is impossible to please You, for he who comes to You must believe that You exist and that You reward those who seek you (Hebrews 11:6). And now, therefore, O God, I thank you and praise your glorious name (1 Chronicles 29:13).

 Amen

I have this prayer deeply memorized as a result of having prayed it daily for years. When I go to sleep, when I wake up, if I wake up in the middle of the night, if I’m driving in the car, I will often pray this prayer from memory, along with other prayers I have memorized.

Many people struggle with boredom when repeating something over and over, and that is a factor that has to be dealt with. I change my prayers up from time to time, and may shuffle them with prayers from the past, etc. But for the most part, I welcome the repetition because:

  1. The written prayers are usually more substantive and interesting than my “spontaneous” prayers, which can become shallow
  2. By repeating the written prayers over and over again, I know that they are affecting my brain in very positive ways, changing me spiritually
  3. The repetition eventually leads to having the written prayers deeply memorized, which I really enjoy because that allows me to pray them whenever I want without needing to look at anything

Next week, I’ll give you my third prayer hack. I hope you find them interesting and helpful. If you have your own prayer hacks, share them with me, and if I get enough feedback, I can reflect it in future blogs.

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