When I was 15 years old, I attend a Bible Study for the first time. I had never heard the gospel or even dreamed that Jesus had risen from the dead and was in fact God. The leader asked if I wanted to pray to become a follower of Jesus. After a few guidelines, I was encouraged to pray in my own words. That was my first prayer, and from that point on, it felt most genuine to pray a spontaneous prayer that came from my heart.
I still value spontaneous prayers, but I am starting to notice that some of my most meaningful times of prayer use someone else’s prayer as a guideline. Each phrase of the “Our Father” prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 is so meaningful and can easily become a topic of prayer. Similarly, Ephesians 3:14-19 is a great guideline for praying for ourselves and others. There are also many prayers that have been written throughout church history that reflect scriptural depth and closeness to God.
Praying these prayers challenges me to move beyond my own understanding of Scripture and relationship with Jesus.
For example, I often begin my morning quiet time praying through a prayer written by the Anglican pastor, John Stott.
MORNING TRINITARIAN PRAYER
Good morning heavenly Father,
good morning Lord Jesus,
good morning Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe.
Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world.
Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence
and please you more and more.
Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.
Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me. Amen.
– John Stott, quoted in Basic Christian: The Inside Story of John Stott