I have noticed how ‘small’ the prayers I lead congregations in sometimes are.
This has been highlighted as I have been using the new Common Prayer services produced for our Diocese by the Archbishop’s Liturgical Panel. What highlighted the inadequacy is carefully reflecting on the collects or prayers in the book.
Loss of big, bold praying
There is a right concern not to over-claim what God does not promise. In order to ensure that we do not do this we sometimes pray half hearted prayers with so many qualifications, I am sometimes not sure that I believe God can and will hear and act for the good of his people.
But in not praying big, bold prayers are we in danger of not helping our congregations gathered to see we have a great God whop does great things.
Take for example the prayer for the morning:
Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for
bringing us safely to this day. Keep us by your mighty power, and grant that we
fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but lead and govern us in
all things, that we may always do what is righteous in your sight, through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
This is an example of big, bold praying in a succinct prayer. It recognizes that despite the way we naturally think it is God who has given us the blessing of surviving the night, and only by His goodness we will make it through this day. It then goes on to ask for complete protection and holiness of life, without any qualification.
What is wrong with asking such things of our heavenly Father? It doesn’t assume that no harm will befall us, and after concluding the prayer thinking that I will be sinlessly perfect from this time forward. But it nonetheless boldly asks for what God has promised: protection at all times and in all things such that we will endure and persevere and through such perseverance glorify and honour our Saviour.
If our praying is to be true to God, it will capture the great gospel promises and apply them to our situations in life.
So I want to beware of claiming more than God promises, but also to beware of not asking what God desires to give.
I do not have the solutions and the perfect form of words, but guess this is a plea for us to think through how we appropriately and properly give voice to the exorbitant promises of God for those who trust him, while not leading people astray into trusting in the wrong things.