Stabbing Public Pastoral Prayers

Pastor Thomas R. Mckibbens in his article to pastors, “Prayer In Corporate Worship,” [Faith and Mission (SEBTS), 7.2:22–23]:

At the risk of seeming to waste your time, consider reading great fiction, poetry, and drama. Go back and pick up those books which you know you “should have read” back there in college or even high school, but that you have secretly kept quiet about when the book was discussed in your hearing. I am speaking of Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, and some of the Greek plays by Sophocles or Euripides. I am speaking of classics like Milton’s Paradise Lost and the great novels of Tolstoy.

Enjoy the imaginative writings of J. R. R. Tolkien or C. S. Lewis or Charles Williams. Or you may prefer to read American classics like Melville’s Moby Dick or Faulkner’s novels or contemporary writers like Walker Percy. I am not talking about forcing yourself to complete an agonizing book just so you can say you have read it; rather I am talking about leisure reading for fun! Why pollute your mind with junk novels when you could, with a little forethought, be reading the great works of the English language? After a number of years of this you will be surprised at how many of the great books you can call your friends.

The pleasure of all this reading is not only that it is fun, but also that you enrich your mind with a store of imagination. In the preparation of public prayer, it is a way of forming your sentences and shaping your thoughts which stabs the imagination of the congregation, and they are a vital part of the prayer you voice. It becomes their prayer, because you have said it just the way they wish they could have said it.

His point about the value of classic literature to sharpen (pun) one’s prayer language is a good one, as long as we do not underplay the value of the prayers, Psalms, and prophetic writings of Scripture to do the same.

3 thoughts on “Stabbing Public Pastoral Prayers

  1. I wish I could stab many a pastoral prayer before they saw the light of day…

    Then truly I would be stabbing public pastoral prayers.

  2. I keep a little volume by my bedside, now out of print, *The Prayers of John Calvin*. It’s comforting to kneel down and voice the Genevan’s petitions before launching out into that tempestuous sea of vulnerability which we call sleep.

    Beside that volume are the prayers of St Dickens….

    Friar TB

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