Structure in Prayer

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”~~Oscar Wilde

Today’s word of the day, from Merriam-Webster, is absolve, “to set free from an obligation or the consequences of guilt; to remit (a sin) by absolution.”

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. I mean, seriously. What else would you need?

I only had to work about thirty minutes over, last night, so that was nice. We had a nice, relaxing evening, watching TV for a while. Today, we have our usual grocery shopping, and then Rachel and Justin will be coming over this afternoon.

We have nailed down some plans for later this month. The Southlake Community Band will play at the Christmas Tree Lighting event on November 21, at the Southlake Town Square. We plan to go pick up my mother Friday night, the 20th, so she can come listen to the band play Christmas music. She will spend Saturday night and go to church with us on Sunday morning. Then we’ll take her home after lunch. Our church will be having Thanksgiving dinner that evening, so we’ll be back for that. Then on Thanksgiving Day, which is the following Thursday, we plan to cook stuff and take it to Mineral Wells for Thanksgiving lunch. Good times.

Birthdays are coming up next week, as Christi’s is the 12th. My dad’s birthday is November 15, which is next Sunday. We have not decided if we will try to go to Mineral Wells for that day. It is the first birthday since he passed away in April.

On this date in 1665, the London Gazette was first published. On this date in 1872, the ship Mary Celeste set sail from New York. She would be discovered on December 4, completely deserted, life boat missing. The cargo and crew’s belongings were intact and undisturbed. The crew was never heard from or seen again. No one knows what happened to them. The last journal entry had been ten days earlier. In 1908, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kind were allegedly killed in San Vicente, Bolivia. In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman to be elected to the United States Congress. In 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed due to an unfortunate engineering anomaly.

The wind blowing through the cables matched the resonant frequency of the bridge, causing it to sway, even from the first day it was opened to the public, just four months prior to the collapse. People called the bridge “Galloping Gertie.”
Three years later, Franklin D Roosevelt was elected for an unprecedented fourth term as President of the United States.

Today’s birthdays include Captain James Cook (British naval officer), Archie Campbell (American comedian), Billy Graham (American evangelist), Al Hirt (American trumpet player), Jim Kaat (American baseball player), Johnny Rivers (American singer/songwriter), and Joni Mitchell (Canadian musician).

Archie Campbell was a comedian who is probably most known for his run on the country comedy/music variety show, Hee Haw. Here is a You Tube video tribute, containing several of his skits, one being his retelling of the fairy tale, “Rindercella.” Archie was born on this date in 1914 and died in 1987.

Dwight Frye, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Steve McQueen are among notable deaths on this date.


(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Today, I’m looking at a second way that Timothy Keller gives us to develop a habit of adoration and praise. This comes from the sixteenth-century English Reformer Thomas Cranmer, who was the author of the original Book of Common Prayer. In that book, he had what is known as “collects,” or corporate prayers. They followed this general structure:

1. The address–a name of God
2. The doctrine–a truth about God’s nature that is the basis for the prayer
3. The petition–what is being asked for
4. The aspiration–what good result will come if the request is granted
5. In Jesus’ name–this remembers the mediatorial role of Jesus

here is an example of one of the prayers that follows this structure:

1. Almighty God,
2. unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid,
3. cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit,
4. that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name,
5. through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Obviously, the prayers in the book do not have numbers. But this is to show how they line up structurally. The prayer moves “from a grounding in God’s nature (why we can ask) to the petition (what we want) to the aspiration (what we will do with it if we get it).” This pattern also combines “praise with petition, sound theology with deep aspirations of the heart, and concrete goals for our daily life.”

One way to cultivate this is to write prayers to God in a journal, attempting to follow this structure until it becomes a habit. “Eventually, you will find that when praying aloud or praying privately, you will instinctively start any petition by looking at God himself and appealing to that as you cry out to him.”

Father in heaven, you know everything about me. I pray that you would help me to pray effectively to you, daily. I pray that my life would be a life of constant prayer, and that all that I do I would do for your name and your glory. In doing this, your name would be magnified in all the earth, and people would see the benefit of living such a life. These things I pray through the Son and by the Spirit.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Grace and peace, friends.