*In continuing our discussion on prayer I had this to add. Long post alert, sorry!
As a Christian I want to pray more. And we know, as Christians we are commanded to pray. It isn't optional. But I find myself thinking that way about it. Here is what Luther says about prayer.
"Prayer is therefore as strictly and earnestly commanded as all other commandments: to have no other God, not to kill, not to steal, etc."Since having babies I have fallen into the habit of not making prayer a daily habit, so this is not easy stuff for me to hear. But what my flesh needs to hear. The flesh that must drown and die daily. So what do I pray? How do I pray?
"there stands the commandment, Thou shalt and must do it, so also here it is not left to my will to do it or leave it undone, but prayer shall and must be offered at the risk of God's wrath and displeasure."
"This is therefore to be understood and noted before everything else, in order that thereby we may silence and repel the thoughts which would keep and deter us from praying, as though it were not of much consequence if we do not pray, or as though it were commanded those who are holier and in better favor with God than we; as, indeed, the human heart is by nature so despondent that it always flees from God and imagines that He does not wish or desire our prayer, because we are sinners and have merited nothing but wrath."
"In the second place, we should be the more urged and incited to pray because God has also added a promise, and declared that it shall surely be done to us as we pray, as He says, Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee. Ps. 51:15 And Christ in the Gospel of St.Matthew Ask, and it shall be given you. For every one that asketh receiveth. Matt. 7:7 Such promises ought certainly to encourage and kindle our hearts to pray with pleasure and delight, since He testifies with His [own] word that our prayer is heartily pleasing to Him, moreover, that it shall assuredly be heard and granted, in order that we may not despise it or think lightly of it, and pray at a venture."
Luther says in the Large Catechism,
"there is no nobler prayer to be found upon earth than the Lord's Prayer which we daily pray."This is the prayer I say most when I can't find words or when I'm exhausted and at my wits end. It is the prayer that God loves to hear and, Luther again,
"which we ought not to surrender for all the riches of the world."Use the prayer our Lord taught us!
In addition to the Lord's Prayer, I wanted to share a wonderful resource that I have begun to use. It's called Starck's Prayer-Book. I highly recommend getting this book (in the original 1921 English translation I'll add). The author, who lived during the 17th & 18th centuries, has the most beautiful and seamless way of weaving Holy Scripture into these prayers giving them a richness that other prayer books I've used have lacked. It provides prayers for each day of the week, morning and evening, along with a short exhortation for that day and a hymn. The book goes on to include:
Prayers for the Festival Seasons
Prayers for Spiritual and Bodily Blessings
Prayers for the Afflicted, the Sick, the Dying and for Special Occasions (Birthdays, War Time, Weather and Travel etc.)
I know prayer books aren't everyone's "thing", and at one point in my life I believed that the prayer that wasn't from your heart (prayers that were written by others) wasn't real prayer.
But I have come to learn how very helpful these written prayers can be, especially during times I just don't know what to pray or how to pray, or worse don't even want to pray.
The link I've provided to find the book is to Emmanuel Press. A printing business that is putting out some great resources. Poke around the site and take a look. Also, note that they have published a book of prayers for mothers; Starck's Motherhood Prayers for All Occasions (which is found as an appendix in Starck's Prayer-Book) as a separate volume.
While there is a prayer of parents for their children in this book, most of these prayers are for those expecting a child or who have recently delivered a child and they're wonderful. Not all of you are in this situation of course, but I have been told by several mothers not in either of these stages of life that the prayers are useful to them as well.
So, do you use aids when you pray? What do you use? A book? A list? A journal?