Creativity in prayer

My Personalized Prayer (speech)

How do you pray? Some people like to pray in a way that is spontaneous and very conversational. Others like to pray using some kind of set prayers, pretty much word for word, that others may also use. For example, they may pray the “Lord’s Prayer” that we see in Matthew 6:9-13. Some people like to start with Biblical prayers or passages, but then personalize them with other things that they want to include.

There are some famous prayers that have come to us from other people. For example, there is the Serenity Prayer from a theologian named Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930s. It says:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer was used and publicized a lot by Alcoholics Anonymous programs. On the other hand, it doesn’t really resonate with me, so I don’t use it. However, I do find the ideas to definitely be helpful in some situations.

I was thinking about developing a prayer that would really incorporate a lot of personal concerns and things about my life, to make it into something I could use in my daily devotions. I began working with the “Lord’s Prayer” as an initial pattern, but then started adding other things to it.

For example, where it says, “Thy kingdom come,” I expand that by praying, “Help me to work effectively toward the establishment of your kingdom.”

After that it says, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Right after praying that I add on, “Help me to do your will: what you want me to do, how you want me to do it, where you want me to do it, when you want me to do it.”

From the ideas in the Lord’s Prayer, I started branching off into making another prayer that was influenced by the Lord’s prayer, but was substantially expanded and personalized. However it began it in a similar pattern.

For example, instead of saying “Our father who art in heaven, I prayed “Dear heavenly Father.” And instead of “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” I said “help us to do your will,” followed by ways I wanted to do God’s will: cheerfully, obediently, willingly, etc. etc.

I started using this prayer and kept developing it as I had more ideas about what to include. Now here is the prayer, this is where it stands at this point in time:

Dear heavenly Father, help us to do your will, cheerfully, obediently, willingly, submissively, patiently (pause 10 heartbeats), patiently (10 heartbeats), faithfully, reverently, with the motive of glorifying you, and righteously, effectively, according to your timetable.

Help us to bring praise, honor and exaltation to your name in all the things we think, say and do, instead of trying to puff ourselves up in our thoughts, words and deeds.

Help me to love you with all my heart, soul, strength, mind and understanding, and my neighbors—other people—as myself. These others include people who disagree with me, lie to me or others, or hurt people close to me or others.

Help us to worship and adore you in spirit and truth.

Rather than trying to do it for ourselves, help us to lift up and magnify your name using all the abilities, aptitudes, experiences, skills, knowledge and wisdom you have blessed us with, humbly modulated by the limitations you have imposed on us, and empowered by the Spirit you have inspired into us.

I pray this in the name of Jesus our Savior, Amen.

Well that’s the prayer. I should mention there are some extra features built into this prayer. You might not have caught all of them when you heard it, so here’s what they were. When I say, “help us to do your will,” I say the word “your” louder and more emphatically. When I say I want to do God’s will “cheerfully,” I try to make face and my voice seem cheerful. When I say I want to do God’s will “submissively,” I try to make my voice sound submissive. Probably everyone noticed the long pauses when I said the word “patiently,” but may not have realized the pauses were timed by counting 10 heartbeats.

Another thing that’s built into this prayer is some body motion. Humans are both physical and spiritual beings, so we can engage both our minds and our bodies in prayer and worship. You can see this in a church when people lift their hands in praise while singing worship songs.

When I’m praying I go into a separate room and shut the door. I kneel down leaning on the chair in the room. Then when I say “worship” and when I say “adore,” I bow my head down and touch my forehead to the chair where I’m kneeling. That brings some more physical engagement into the prayer.

Before getting into developing my own prayers, I was not doing much in the way of personal, private devotions. This whole process has been a very good experience. It’s been inspiring to me. I highly recommend it to others.