Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The nightly vespers...

Heavenly Father, who brought us out of slavery to sin and into the Light of your Son, Jesus Christ, Grant us the strength and wisdom to recover the truths that many of us have left behind that we may fully understand the pure message and good news of Salvation that comes only from You in the name of your precious Son Jesus Christ, who together with you and the Holy Spirit, reign in glory forever and ever. Amen.

The nightly vespers, or evening prayers, is an old practice that used to be commonplace amongst Christians. God deserves our prayers, and I'm finding that it's just as proper to study how to pray as it is to just pray. There are many parts to the vespers, but I want to look at just one right now.

Take the prayer above. I just composed it using an old formula, the collect, which begins with an invocation, a petition, and a doxology. First we invoke name of God, which could be any of the various names that are used in the bible. I like the hebrew name El-Shaddai, not just because it's the title of a great song performed by Amy Grant, but because it means "LORD God Almighty". Part of the invocation is to state something that God has done not just for us, but for all people. God has stated of himself in Scripture statements like, "I am the LORD, your God, who brought you our of egypt", so we invoke his name in the same way. A petition is exactly that, a petition.

In a doxology, we have a statement of honor and praise, like the doxology at the end of the Lord's prayer: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever.

Now, I'm like most folks. I've had enormous difficulty with the act of praying over the years, because I believed that a prayer needed to come from the heart. The problem always came the with endless stream of uhs and justs and stops and starts... not very heartfelt at the end of the prayer. But using a simple structure like this has made quite a difference for my prayers. I want to offer up more than uhs and justs to God in my prayers, and it's been a real blessing to study these old forms.

I also found a great website that can help with daily morning and evening prayers.



Shelley said...

Nice post. As an "FYI", El Shaddai means "God Almighty", there is no LORD attached to it. If it did, then Adonai (sp) would be added to it.

the big test

Since someone, somewhere, has seen fit to deprive the world of Issues etc and take a huge bite out of confessional Lutheranism at the same time, I will not take up the mantle of working to see that those who did it answer for their actions.
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