Is it ok to use other peoples prayers?
In part two of our special Christmas blog series, we look at what it means to “borrow” a prayer
Last month I was listening to “The Next Right Thing”, a podcast by Emily P Freeman. In Episode 93 Emily talks about the power of borrowing a prayer. I'll admit it, when this episode played and she was introducing the topic, I found myself placing much closer attention as I listened closer to her next words. The phrase “borrow prayers” kept coming up which had my gears shifting in what felt like a million and one directions. At one point I ended up pausing the episode to take in what she was saying. By the end of the short episode, I found myself with quite a few nuggets of truth and these helped me pay closer attention to my prayer life. Since listening to this episode I found myself implementing what Emily suggested - borrowing a prayer.
Prayer is the foundation in which our relationship with God lays upon. Prayer is how we communicate to Him and He to us. Prayer is the way we lament, grow, listen, and respond. Prayer strengthens us and stretches us. Prayer is the way to spiritual development and our lifelong necessity. I can’t tell you how often over the years I have delayed praying because I couldn’t think of anything to say or the flip side, how many times I’ve laid in bed and accidentally fallen asleep mid prayer. Oftentimes I find myself thinking how boring I must sound to God or how repetitive. I’ve had many conversations and have also felt the distance firsthand with praying. When I was in high school I would listen to these great stories of folks in church or read about the journeys in my devotion and I would feel left out- how did these people have such strong prayer lives and how do I get one? While my prayer life is still a work in progress and something that challenges me daily, Emily’s words rang true to how we should indeed approach prayer- by borrowing one.
Borrowing a prayer isn’t a black market deal or shameful thing to do. I never thought about borrowing a prayer before because I simply did not know I could. In school we are taught of plagiarism and how copying- even borrowing- is frowned upon, yet Emily was suggesting I do this very thing- take someone’s perfectly crafted, personal words, use them as my own, and present them to God?! Okay… sounds like a straight shoot to hell if you ask me. But, the more I scrubbed the pots and pans, thought about her points, and pinpointed them in my own life, I realized there is such power and truth with borrowing a prayer. I have heard pastors advising and devotionals prioritizing “praying scripture”- this is essentially the same thing. Borrowing a prayer comes in many forms, one of which some of us may already be including in our daily routine. Reading God’s work and praying this over our own life, a friend’s, community member, or the world is borrowing a prayer- God’s utmost perfect words, and speaking this holy prayer to Him. When we borrow scripture as a prayer, we are affirming God’s character, His power, and submitting before Him.
“Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” — Matthew 7:7-8 (ESV)
This verse stands out in my mind when I am thinking about prayer. Prayer is quite literally that simple- all we have to do is ask. When we are searching for something- peace, abundance, an answer/ direction, etc. all we have to do is ask and “it will be given” to us. In my Bible this verse is highlighted, circled, and underlined to the extreme with margin and sticky notes. This verse is the perfect representation of why prayer is so powerful and why it is much needed in our relationship with God. Sure, prayer and our God exist for more than giving to us. The words are purposeful. The book of Matthew was written by the Apostle Matthew and as the author he could have chosen a synonym for the word “will”. Instead, the word of God was spoken through Matthew and he transcribed accordingly. In this verse God isn’t telling us that if we ask, it might be given to us or if we seek we could find what we’re looking for- or that if we knock, we have to make sure it's loud enough so God can hear it over whatever his daily routine or the events are in Heaven. Instead, God is saying that what we ask Him for, He WILL give it to us and we WILL find what we’re looking for because doors WILL be opened. This passage is instructing us to ask, see, and find, as the chapter of this passage is titled. In order to find, we must seek, what we seek we must ask for. Everything in the Bible and in our lives stems from our prayer life. Being able to prioritize this aspect of our spiritual life and create a foundation of prayers is essential. Borrowed prayers is but one way to grow in this area and learn to expand what it is we are seeking and what we understand, as well.
I encourage you to pray a borrowed prayer- even if it is just once. Open your heart and your mind to receiving the gift of another’s words, adapting them to your life, and bringing them before the Father. Take these next few weeks to start fresh and go back to the basics- build your prayer tool box that will help you approach any and all aspects of life in a strong, Christ-centred way. The very moment we choose to follow God and live our lives according to His word, we are also accepting the grace and goodness He declares for us. God wants us to find what we’re looking for, this is why He does not make this conditional. He doesn’t tell us “it will be given to you" if you donate a certain dollar amount to the church, if we dress a certain way, enter into a specific profession, attend college, etc. God wants us to come to Him on a daily basis. God wants to feel included in our lives. God is like that person in gym class just waiting for one of the teams to pick Him as a player. God is for us and He cheers us on better than any cheerleader. He parents us and loves us more than any human is capable of. He is the best best-friend and He is so excited when we make the time to chat with Him through prayer.
Read more from Macaila Britton at MacailaBritton.com and look out for the next instalment of this Christmas holiday series.
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