Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

(Re)Awakening Your Prayer Life

Prayer is not only hard for most Christians, it is discouraging to be reminded of the importance of prayer. Sometimes it is a scolding preacher and other times nothing more than the word of someone who seems so good at prayer. A few years ago I became convinced that one of the major reasons prayer is hard is because we rely too much upon ourselves.

Instead of relying upon our own ideas, our own words, and our own energies there is another method. This method is from the Bible and it has been practiced throughout the history of the Church. I call it “sacred prayers and sacred rhythms.” In my book, Praying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today
I show how God gave to us a prayer book — the Psalms — and God gave us that book so we would learn how to pray by praying the prayers of the Psalms. Then we learn that Jesus prayed this way too — at set times he used set prayers and he expected his followers to do the same. Jesus then added to the prayers of the Bible: he gave to you and me the Lord’s Prayer to teach us how to pray.


Who wants to tell us today about their experience of learning to pray with the Church by using the great prayers of the Bible and the Church?

Here are the words of Jesus for one of these great Bible prayers, the Lord’s Prayer:

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When
he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray,
just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come. 
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.


Simple words to repeat. Daily.

The early Christians were known to have said the Lord’s Prayer at set hours — three times a day. And the Church has always prayed daily at set times.

If you are discouraged about your praying I suggest you learn about and then practice the gentle habits of sacred prayers and sacred rhythms — saying the great prayers of the Bible and the Church at set times. Discouragement may pass away without your not even knowing it.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 6:54 am

Thanks for the post. I have been praying the divine hours for some time, helped along by your book “Praying with the Church.” Though I do not think of myself as a “prayer warrior,” I do find a new energy and hope as I enter into the wise praying of the church. My prayers have moved beyond moods and obssessions to a rhythm of life. Interestingly enough,as I use written prayers, my own prayers have become more spontaneous. The written prayers act as sort of a flywheel that moves the whole. As Annie Dillard puts it, “I often think of the set pieces of liturgy as certain words that people have successfully addressed to God without their getting killed.”

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posted November 21, 2008 at 7:59 am

I am just beginning to “pray with the church.” Scott, I read your book during a very dry season in my personal prayers. I have found a renewed season as I have begun to learn the rythms of liturgy. I have had a few days where I have been completely amazed at home God meets me through these great old prayers.

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Paul Day

posted November 21, 2008 at 9:26 am

Eugene Peterson has a wonderful chapter on the Lord’s Prayer in his new book, “Tell It Slant”. Simple words, to be sure, but an inexhaustible font for our spirits.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 9:52 am

Thanks for this reminder. I’ve recently been struck by how completely bereft of life I am without prayer–and how God does listen and act, surprisingly enough maybe. I didn’t grow up in a liturgical tradition, but I’ve flirted with aspects of it in my adult life. Thanks for the reminder of the helpfulness and greatness of these set Biblical prayers.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 10:03 am

Just wanted to say “Amen” to this post. I remember being shocked–in a good way–at some of the language of the Psalms when I first read them for myself. The people that wrote these were real people. There have been many weeks/months in which Psalm 121 or parts of 25, 118, 1, 4, or several others, respectively, were regularly running through my brain through the day, having read/prayed them at home a good few times. I’ve often been strengthened–even in some of my weakest moments–when I realize I’m praying along not only with the writer of the psalm in the heavens, but also in agreement with God who authorized this prayer for his people.
It is definitely no cop-out to pray the Psalms, the Lord’s Prayer, or a prayer from one of the many great prayer books.
Scot’s book is a really great way to get a historical and practical context and plan for getting into praying some solid prayers. I really liked his plan for combining the Jesus creed, the Lord’s prayer and the psalms. (Thanks, again, Scot, for the book.)

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posted November 21, 2008 at 11:31 am

Scot,____As a result of reading Praying with the Church, I have been using Tickle’s Divine Hours, as well a couple other small breviaries over the past few years. I have found that my awareness of, and attentiveness to, God throughout the day has been significantly heightened and enhanced. Through workshops and conversations, I have been encouraging others at our church to begin experimenting with this approach, and some have been experienced it as very meaningful. Thanks again for helping to champion the re-awakening of this great practice among evangelicals.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 12:05 pm

As someone new to this form of prayer, I got a lot out of Robert Benson’s “In Constant Prayer.”

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Jon Snyder

posted November 21, 2008 at 12:16 pm

I just finished Scot’s book, Praying with the Church as well. While I thought this was my least favorite McKnight work thus far (due to the repetition), it does an excellent job of introducing a noobie regarding the sacred rythms to how and why we pray with the church. I have started using Tickle’s divine hours, pocket edition and appreciate the fact that I can be in prayer without feeling like I myself am praying the same things I always pray. It helps encourage creativity in my own prayers as well.

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posted November 21, 2008 at 12:40 pm

This is a bit different, but several years ago I looked at the verse which says “be anxious for nothing but ask for everything you need in prayer and supplication and the peace of God which passes all understanding will be your in Christ Jesus” (or something close to that – I’m too lazy to look it up this morning). I decided based on this verse that every time I became anxious or worried, I would take that as life’s way of reminding me to pray. Given that I was recovering from a serious case of clinical depression, this virtually translated into praying constantly. And it had a permanent, positive effect on my prayer life.
There’s actually also a verse (again too lazy to look it up) which talks about the Spirit speaking for us when we can only moan wordlessly. This took a lot of pressure off of me to come up with words myself.
Finally, I actually wrote something a while ago about the effect of praying a morning prayer daily through high school:

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posted November 25, 2008 at 2:58 pm

I am just now coming back to this practice of prayer. I grew up in a mainline church and lived in this type of prayer environment for a long time. At age 21 I “rebelled” and joined an independent evangelical church. I am now 49 and the cumulative effects of helter-skelter, do-your-own-thing prayer habits (or lack thereof) have left me very hungry and feeling disconnected from the larger Church body. The return back to the habit of prayer has been a blessing.

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posted July 4, 2009 at 9:51 am

One of the beauties of this type of prayer, is that not only do I join with the Brothers in my community, but with Christians of all times and places throughout the world. I join in the same prayers that the faithful have said from darkest ages past to today.
Thanks for writing this book.

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