Prayers of the Reformers | Edited by Thomas McPherson | Paraclete Press | 2017
It has taken me some time to become a fan of prayers that other people write. It doesn’t seem quite like praying to me if I didn’t formulate the words. This said, I found this small volume of prayers a keepsake and have felt the same enrichment reading them as I feel singing hymns.
In his brief bio McPherson states that he is “committed to preserving ancient prayers”. Just as ancient art, ancient literature, and ancient poetry widen our perception of the things we think we know, prayers do as well. We each are inescapably bound to our own era and are in need of stepping back to receive from another time where they saw certain things more clearly.
These prayers are elegant, honest, and poignant. They are filled with scripture, wholehearted devotion, and dependance upon God. They provide words for standard times of prayer such as bedtime and mealtime, and they speak directly to circumstances we all face, such as illness, temptation, betrayal, and need for guidance. Lately I have felt kindred to Luther’s cry out of helplessness. It is a perspective changer from the anger and futility so natural when we find ourselves powerless:
“Lord, what you do not do remains undone.
If you will not help, I will gladly surrender.
The cause is not mine.
I will happily be your mask and disguise,
if only you will do the work. Amen.”
Luther reminds us that whatever is happening or not happening according to our plans, our lives are not our own.
I hope that meditating upon words such as these will make doctrine come alive in me, and make these words more sincere in my heart:
“O loving Christ, draw me, weak as I am, to your side,
for if you do not draw me, I can never follow you.
Give me a brave spirit, so that it may always stand ready and
And when my flesh is weak,
let your grace go before me,
come beside me,
and follow after me…”