Prayer and praying follow certain forms in different traditions. A friend, nurtured in the Catholic church, taught me a prayer she said in her home before meals. It sparked something in me and I committed the prayer to memory.
Thank you, oh Lord, for these thy gifts for which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen.
While usually said before eating, it spoke to me deeply beyond mealtime. Let me explain. Six women sat together, listening as one mom shared vulnerably about a personal situation, after which we joined her in prayer. Free form praying is our go to method, but as we finished, I asked if we could pray the aforementioned prayer over the situation before us. As we did, I was moved by the gratitude and expectation expressed in these simple sentences.
Here we were, six women of faith, asking God to be present in the life situation of one of us. Before we saw any change, we 1) thanked God for what he would do and 2) expected it to come from his bounty (liberality, generosity). It is so consistent with his word to us!
3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. . . . This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7He is so rich in kindness and grace . . . 8He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.Ephesians 1:3-8
The next day we checked in on our friend’s life situation. In the overnight hours, God had done “immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.” It was incredible to be a part of this experience and see how a simple, rote prayer spoken in faith at the right time expressed our desires, affirmed our faith and set us up for great expectations.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.Ephesians 3:20-21
Does prayer seem overwhelming to you? Do the prayers from your past seem overused and unoriginal? How can they be reframed to authentically express your heart and open you up to great expectations?