Scripted Prayers Actually Work

Charismatic Christians have often criticized liturgical churches for their many traditions and scripted prayers.

From the Charismatic’s perspective, life, meaning, and power are found in the present-tense relational interaction between believer and Holy Spirit. Scripted prayers and weekly rituals are considered “dead and boring”.

The reasoning seems sound: God is not a magical genie granting wishes to whomever recites the magical incantation properly. There is no algorithm or secret password granting access to the wealth of God’s goodness. And so, a pre-written and oft-recited prayer seems to attempt a measure of virtue or accomplishment by merely repeating it aloud.

But it’s not the nature of being pre-written that makes a prayer dull, lifeless, and boring. It’s the perspective and attitude of the person praying. 

For some, a scripted prayer is a meaningless sequence of words. For others, it is an opportunity to tune the mind and focus to a proper pitch, like a tuning fork.

Science has shown the power we wield to influence our own thoughts and beliefs by the words we speak. One researcher explained that a portion of the brain records what is said from the mouth and is incapable of interpreting truth from fiction. It just records every word spoken as true. And from this archive of information, the mind is informed what to believe.

Now imagine a prayer that is Scripturally sound, spoken often by a person who participates with the goal of aligning their thoughts and their intentions with God’s. This act of humility and obedience takes on a powerful role in the life of the believer. The spoken word forms and solidifies the beliefs of the mind, establishing a foundation of belief from which to build.

How do I know? Here’s one quick story:

It was the summer of 2009. I had left any identifiable path and veered off into a major career ditch. I felt constantly frustrated, depressed, and overwhelmed. There were mindsets I didn’t know how I’d ever overcome. Belief systems deep as ruts that seemed to steer me down an undesired life path.

Then, rather quickly, things began changing. I found myself feeling more encouraged. More honest with myself. More aware of deception in my own thoughts. It was like turning a corner in life, and I had no idea how it happened. Not at first.

I shared the changes going on inside me with my wife, and she smiled. She looked pleased, but not totally surprised. She told me that she’d been committed to praying for me every day for the past month or two. And stranger yet, she was praying scripted prayers out of a book!

She had this little booklet called The Power of a Praying Wife, written by Stormie Omartian. She prayed a prayer each day over me from that book without telling me, and not long after I began experiencing results.

Who Changed? Her or Me?

This is the right question which I can’t possibly answer. Did the prayers affect me and my situation directly, or did they slowly shift her perspective toward me and create more honor, patience, and appreciation? Most likely a little of both.

I was so impacted by the changes in my life and the simple choices Heather had made that I quickly drove up to Mardel Christian bookstore and bought two companion books: The Power of a Praying Husband and The Power of a Praying Parent.

I keep these little booklets with me at all times so that I will always be able to pray for my love ones when I feel led, concerned, or out of alignment.

Why not just pray your own prayer?

I still do express my concerns to God in my own words, but there’s often less of a sense of closure to them. It’s like talking to a friend. I’m not always confident that He’s going to do anything about my more casually expressed prayers. It’s an issue of faith or lack thereof.

But when I pray someone else’s prayer who has seen results, either straight from the Bible or a prayer book like these, I feel aligned with a biblical collective, and I feel more certainty. “The power of agreement” is what I would call it. I am not alone in my prayer. I am praying something good that other people are praying and we are standing on Scriptural promises as well (listed in the book with each prayer).

Whether it’s the prayer of agreement or the literal re-prayer of something prayed in Scripture, I have more confidence that what I am saying aligns with God’s will, and when we pray God’s will, what’s to stop Him from doing it?

Test it out for yourself. But be careful. The posture of your attitude really matters. Don’t read a prayer like you’re reading a story or the back of a cereal box.

Here’s how I do it

I read the scripted prayer aloud. That’s really important. There are both scientific and scriptural reasons for vocalizing prayer versus silent “thought” prayers. I consistently find that I have more confidence when I speak my prayers.

As I read each word, I make the conscious effort to understand what’s being said and to ensure that I agree with it. If I catch myself having read a sentence or more without connecting to it, I will go back and re-read it again, but this time focused on its meaning and my agreement. As I read it aloud in total agreement, I am connecting to what some Orthodox or Catholic believers might call the communion of the saints. Test it for yourself. Prayers of agreement are potent.

Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:19-20

While I can’t fully explain the dynamic of the prayer of agreement, God’s Word says it gets answers. So I’m going to seek agreement with Scripture and other believers when I pray for really important things like family, health, provision, safety, community, etc. As much as possible, I want to walk away from a prayer feeling solid… like I know something was just accomplished.

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