Recently I tried another podcast source, Michael Spencer at InternetMonk.com. The episode I listened to was Internet Monk Radio Podcast #164 part of which addressed the Anglican Common Book of Prayer. Spencer praised the usefulness of using the common book of prayer because our prayers often become repetitious and that you might as well use a well crafted prayer as one that you evolve on your on.

Spencer commented that much of what you hear in public prayer in Christian assemblies become repetitious and often poorly conceived (my words in summary). This is true in much of my experience. Christian groups often expect a certain decorum, range of topics, and generality when people speak to God on behalf of the group. Growing up there was often a comment about Brother ______ who has used the same public prayer for the last 20 years, and how certain phrases like “guide, guard and direct us” were regular phrases amongst the less creative prayer leaders.

When Caitlin, Colton, Noah, and I sit down for the evening meal, we often have a period of silence when we join hands to pray for the meal waiting for someone to take the lead and speak the words of thanksgiving. Sometimes I just end the long silence by saying “Amen”. On a few occasions, I’ve said “What we said last time… Amen.” acknowledging the obvious fact that we typically say the same thing before the meal.

As I focus more on relationship with God and consider how our interaction with God is/can be compared to a relationship between a child and an earthly father, I doubt God is interested in repetitious, elongated monologues. I, as a father, do value regular comments of thanks from the kids, but not drawn out, tedious, and repetitious recitations. There are times that a well thought-out recount of past experiences and how it is significant to the son/daughter is heart warming. But, in the end, I like more personal reflection from the kids rather than a string of pattern phrases.

I think scripture and a common book of prayer can provide a good reminder of the goodness, the richness of our experience of being in God’s family, but I’m confident that God is looking for a more personal, earnest dialog with his kids. You get a sense of that reading through the Psalms. Quite a variety of topics and emotions, and very personal.

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