I’m not a fan of liturgical worship. My favourite prayers have always been spontaneous ones from the heart, rather than written ones. I dislike worship services that involve saying large chunks of the same liturgy each week, simply because for me the tendency becomes to just repeat things for the sake of it. It’s easier to get distracted, and not place my heart in something, if it feels like a formula I’m just reciting.
But having said that, and having definitely felt that way for the past 10 years, I now find myself growing in my appreciation of certain set prayers. I’m appreciating a rhythm to my prayer life, where I say many of the same favourite prayers weekly, or even daily. It’s not that these prayers replace my times of open praying. But they do seem to help me, in making sure that I am praying certain important things each day.
My top favourite prayer is definitely the Lord’s Prayer. Being written by Jesus, it shouldn’t be a surprise how profound it is! I had grown up saying it as a formula, but I remember a few years ago struggling in my prayer life, and wanting to know how to fit in all the things I wanted to pray for each day. There were prayers for family and friends, for them to remain in health, come to know Jesus, find work, etc. There were prayers for my work, that God would be in the centre of it and use it all. There were prayers for the world, for revival, for world peace, etc. And there were prayers for myself, that I would continue to grow in my relationship with God.
And then one time when I was feeling overwhelmed with all these different things, and wondering how to fit in praying for them adequately each day, I somehow realised that in this prayer Jesus had summed them all up. He had managed to seemingly fit everything in.
Now I use this as the cornerstone of my prayer life. Sometimes I just pray it all through it one go. More often, I say each phrase or clause, and then use that as a basis for my own spontaneous prayers, e.g. our holy Father (it starts with worship), Your Kingdom come (intercession for the world, for situations, for people), give us our daily bread (praying for provision – spiritual and physical), forgive us (praying for personal forgiveness), deliver us from evil (praying for protection), for Yours is everything (it ends again with worship).
I’ve also started to use a more modern version – maybe the rhyming also helps me in feeling there’s more of a rhythm to it:
Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done
In earth and heaven, just the same
Give us this day our daily bread
Forgive us sinners, and those we’ve met
Save us from the traps that Satan sets
And we’ll celebrate Your endless reign
Some other favourite prayers that I love to pray at the beginning of a day:
I rise today with a mighty power. Calling on the Trinity, believing in the three-ness, affirming the oneness of the Creator of creation (attributed to St Patrick)
Lord, this day help me to know you better, hear your voice more clearly, and experience your power more profoundly.
And then a prayer of blessing that I’ve taken to saying over close family, and colleagues I’m working with in ministry.
Lord, please bless – . May they know and discern the truth You tell them, as compared with the lies and accusations that Satan throws at them. May they have a revelation of Your love today. May they walk blamelessly before You. Please protect and bless their health, their family and their finances. May they love and serve You wholeheartedly today.
Any favourite prayers that you have, and want to share?
Mark Williamson is a founding director of One Rock International. He’s a lay preacher and leader within the Methodist Church, author of a biography on John Wesley, and is currently researching for a biography on William Wilberforce. He enjoys good films, good food, praying for London, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna.