December 10, 2008 7:23 AM
Memorized prayer - an evangelical/Catholic discussion
When I became a Catholic after 20 years of evangelicalism, I realized that many prejudices I had about Catholicism were based on misunderstandings and proof-texts which had been drummed into me to make me feel that somehow as an evangelical my relationship was more authentic than that of a Catholic could ever be.
My evangelical experience in the Body of Christ for 20 years was deep and broad. We attended churches ranging from traditional/liturgical Episcopalian to weeping/wailing Assemblies of God. We held back nothing, but surrendered ourselves to all God wanted us to learn from each of these experiences. In some places we learned that all Catholics were bound for Hell. In some, they were simply misguided foolish people.
Because Tripp and I were active in the pro-life movement, we came into contact with many Catholic families who I could see had an authentic relationship with God. This confused me because it flew in the face of all I'd been taught. They didn't seem foolish to me at all - so I just went with the "misguided" judgment.
As recently as 18 months ago I told someone at this blog that they could not find a relationship with Jesus in the Catholic Church. For that I am deeply sorry. And grateful that my Heavenly Father cares deeply enough about me to not allow me to wallow in my misconceptions. My warning to every Christian is "never say never" - about anything. God is much greater than our little boxes and He loves to prove that to us, doesn't He?
Our family was attending the best evangelical church I'd seen. We were completely happy. I was not looking for anything better when God gave me a directive: to go to Mass. I don't want to get into the whole long story here. Anyone interested can read about my journey (and Tripp's, because after great study, he converted also) by scrolling to the bottom here finding Evangelical to Catholic #1, and reading forward.
Though aware of the unreasonable prejudice toward Catholics, I truly thought that my life spoke for my obedience to God and that somehow I would be spared the judgment of those who'd been my friends. I naively thought that somehow my history might at least cause evangelicals to re-visit their prejudices and take them to God. I was wrong. In the bitter storm following my announcement, many readers left in a great self-righteous huff.
I know a few of you have hung in there and accepted me for who I always was and who I continue to be. I really appreciate that. I hope that for at least a few evangelical readers I am helping to dispel the myth that Catholics cannot know God.
My history is unusual in that in many areas, God has seen fit to give me experience on both sides of the fence: radical leftist/conservative Christian, Zero Population Growth memer/mother of 12, homeschool/public school/ beleiever/nonbeliever, evangelical/Catholic. In my book, Reaching the Left from the Right I speak of building bridges. I really like to discuss ideas - and like to facilitate those discussions in a way that people can feel comfortable listening.
For this reason, I can't let this opportunity go by:
Yesterday, I printed a question from a mother (not a Catholic, btw) who who wondered if I knew of a prayer she could teach her children when an ambulance goes by.
Knowing of none, I did some research but all I could find was the testimony of moms who said a Hail Mary. Deciding to go fishing for something else, I posted the question. Sure enough, several moms suggested the Hail Mary.
I must admit that because I tend to hear things said here through the ears of my evangelical readers as well as my Catholic readers, I cringed. That sounds awful, because I'm not ashamed of saying Hail Mary, but I know there's a misunderstanding and judgment that will be levied by some readers.
But as so often happens, I see God open a door for further discussion. That door came in the form of a comment:
Instead of a memorized prayer, I'd just voice a heartfelt prayer... that God would heal those who were hurt, that doctors would have wisdom and skill in treating them, and that this event might draw those people involved into an even deeper relationship with and dependence on the Father.
Because of my own evangelical background/former prejudices, I read that as a rebuke: a memorized prayer lacks authenticity. I responded:
You are assuming that a memorized prayer cannot be heartfelt. This is a common misconception among Evangelicals - that traaditional prayers are somehow not as worthy as conversational prayer.
This is not true.
A memorized prayer can be said with the same heart and intention and be just as worthy in God's eyes, I'm sure. And I've heard plenty of spontaneous evangelical prayer that sounded like it was on automatic pilot.
Think of the Pledge of Allegiance - what would you think if someone told you it was meaningless because you'd memorized it? On the contrary, as your understanding and appreciation of our country grows, it means even more.
So too the prayers we memorize. Jesus told us to say the Our Father. It is up to us to invest it with meaning.
Like the Our Father, the Hail Mary is straight from the Bible. I think since God chose Mary to be the mother of His son - the arc of the new covenant, so to speak - it doesn't displease Him for us to repeat the words His angel used in greeting Her and to ask for her intercession (which is completely biblical as well).
A few minutes later, the dreaded proof text was proffered:
Matt 6:7 But when praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words. 6:8 So, do not make yourselves like them, for God your Father knows what things you are needing before ever you ask him.
The issue of prayer - and evangelicals feeling superior to Catholics because they don't use written prayer - is one that deserves discussion. I have heard prayer that sounds like it's on automatic pilot from both sides. Evangelicals need to realize that stringing together a bunch of familiar phrases punctuated every 15 seconds with "Lord" can seem even more rote than heartfelt Hail Marys intoned by grieving Catholics standing in the wind and rain and cold outside abortion clinics.
It's all in the heart. And the heart is not for us, but only for God to judge.
I am shutting down comments at Prayer for a Passing Ambulance, and referring the discussion here. Rather than knee-jerk reaction - slapping down those we think in error - let's approach this in a spirit of increasing understanding, assuming that God loves each of us. Because He does.
I do not believe memorized prayers always fall into the category mentioned in the scripture in Matthew. My prayers for ambulances are not a memorized prayer like a Hail Mary, but they are very similar every time. I am not a Catholic, but I do believe that their memorized prayers can be heartfelt. It is a personal thing that every individual has to work out themselves with God, and I will not be the one to decide whether someone is sincere just because their prayer is different than mine.
Posted by: Kellie | December 10, 2008 9:07 AM
I had to grin when I read this post. I have been in many church situations, and everyone thinks they have the correct answer based on what thier church doctrine or history teaches. Whats wrong with jumbled words? The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit prays for us in utterances and groans that we may not understand, but GOd does.
Since God invented speech in the first place, and mixed lauanguage up at the tower of Babel, I believe that no matter what you say, how you say it, God knows the intent of the heart, and if this gal is sincerly concerned about that ambulance and all that it can imply and utters, what seems to her to be a garbled prayer, I assure you, the Good Lord knows exactly what she means. I also agree completly with your premise of anything memorized can become rote. It is a habit we can all fall into, and need to be aware. Thanks so much for your blog.
Posted by: Andrea | December 10, 2008 9:15 AM
Love your blog...been reading for a while. I'm the one who had the great privilege of chatting w/ you one-on-one at the Lovettsville library a few months ago. Hope to meet you in person again one day!
Not a Catholic, and I'm sure would have theological disagreements with you in different areas, but I believe firmly in the validity and benefit of memorized prayers. We are such emotional creatures, prone to error and bias, and I think that relying on the written prayers of saints in the "cloud of witnesses", or from Scripture itself, can be a way to protect ourselves from grieving the Spirit w/ our own selfishness. Of course I also believe that God honors our spontaneous prayers as well, and, as someone noted above, knows the intent of our hearts even when our mouths do not articulate well. I love The Book of Common Prayer (particularly as we celebrated the joyous Advent!), and use those prayers often to convey to the Lord things already said better by someone else, but with which I can whole-heartedly say, "Amen!".
Posted by: Kristen S. | December 10, 2008 10:13 AM
I hadn't even read this post when I e-mailed you this morning. How timely! :D
I know I am guilty of saying "Lord" every ten seconds ONLY when I'm praying with other people. It's like I'm scared to talk to God the way I talk to him when I'm alone.
I also like the formality of a memorized prayer. It's okay to know what you are going to say before you say it. It can mean more that way. Don't we all love to receive love letters? Those are often well thought out in advance.
Posted by: Debra | December 10, 2008 10:33 AM
I agree with what's been said above. :) I was just thinking that if one was opposed to memorizing a prayer from extra-Biblical texts they could perhaps memorize a Psalm or another group of verses to lift to God in those moments.
Posted by: Louise | December 10, 2008 10:38 AM
I am a Catholic, but I don't say a Hail Mary at accidents. Instead we say say something along the lines of:
Please help the people not be scared. Help the firefighters be brave and give the policemen prudence. Help the doctors make wise decisions to help everyone who is hurt.
Which is, in its way, a memorized prayer since we pretty much say the same thing every time.
I am married to a Southern Baptist, BTW, and he always says the same exact (memorized) prayer before meals!
Posted by: Milehimama | December 10, 2008 10:39 AM
I'm a lifelong Catholic, and I appreciate having memorized prayers at my memory for times when they seem most appropriate. Like memorized Scripture verses, memorized prayers offer comfort at times of need.
At the same time, we do need to be attentive to what we are praying. Often, I hear Catholics rattling off prayers so quickly that the words run together and it is clear that they are just reciting words out of habit. At my house, we try to work against that by using a variety of different prayers before meals, or if we are praying using the rosary, my husband and I might vary the tempo of the prayer to keep the children on their toes.
My husband is a convert, and his parents do not believe in memorized prayer. At the same time, humans are creatures of habit, and I can recite my father-in-law's "extemporaneous" prayer before a meal. "Thank you Lord, for this day, and for this food to help and replenish our bodies . . . "
I think that we can both learn from each other, and there is a time and place for both types of prayer.
Posted by: Kelly | December 10, 2008 11:13 AM
I am a lifelong Catholic, but it is only in my adulthood that I have come to appreciate the fullness and richness of my faith. And that includes the prayers.
I have known many prayers "by heart" for many years - most of my life, really - and I agree that there are times when Catholics race through the prayers without ever really thinking of the words. I cringe when I go to a Mass where the Our Father is said in 2 seconds. The words in that prayer are magnificent, and we are blessed with a pastor who will not let us race through them.
The key to Catholic prayers is in the meditation. You need to say the words with meaning - just like any other prayer, whether memorized or extemporaneous.
I choose to pray the "Hail Mary" when I hear sirens for two reasons: 1) that's how I was taught as a child and 2) the actual prayer itself.
In the "Hail Mary", you are greeting and humbly asking for intercession from the Mother of God. Jesus never said "No" to His Mother.
I also feel that the second part of the prayer is especially pertinent to anyone who's life may be in peril (whether the victim of the accident or a first responder):
"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of death. Amen."
I can only hope that the Blessed Mother is interceding for me at the hour of my death.
Posted by: Aimee | December 10, 2008 12:29 PM
As a Catholic who has defended the validity of memorized prayer, I have always pointed out that we use these so that we can pray with one voice. Catholics are very community oriented in that it's not only about Jesus and I, but also about Jesus and you and I.
Posted by: Jan | December 10, 2008 12:33 PM
Yes, I too was taught to always say a "Hail Mary".
Research where origin of the Hail Mary. You will probably discover it's first two parts are from St. Lukes gospel. So...any person can feel free to quote the bible, right? The last part was added by the Church. Maybe a protestant would feel better if they just said the first parts??? For the record, many, many, people who are NOT Catholic pray the Rosary. They may not admit it publicly, but there is something very comforting about the Rosary.
Why wouldn't you want God's very own mother to pray/intercede for you??? I love it when my earthly mother prays for me! It reassures me, she is a woman of great faith. Love it even more when God's mother does.
Funny store about the family rosary at our home: My 6yo dd did not 'feel' like leading a decade one evening. Her 6 yo cousin told her "you don't want the devil to get your soul, do ya"!
Posted by: carolyn | December 10, 2008 1:17 PM
Excellent post, Barbara. I agree that prayer in whatever form must be heartfelt. That is the most important thing. I love memorized prayers because they set boundaries for my thoughts and help me direct them properly when I often don't know what to say.
Posted by: Kim | December 10, 2008 1:23 PM
If I'm on my own I might pray a spontaneous prayer or a Hail Mary. When my chidren are with me we say,
"God Bless the person who's hurt and all the helpers."
Pretty basic, but my little guys get it and that was what mattered to me when we came up with it.
Thanks for all the great posts!
Posted by: Marie C | December 10, 2008 2:39 PM
Well I'm coming at this from a slightly different angle because when I pray in general I pray in tongues.
However, if I am asked to pray for someone, or am praying for an accident I typically pray in English so that the words themselves will minister to them as well.
My in-laws are pentecostal to the bone, but we have "spontaneous" prayers that are really pretty memorized before someone has surgery or we embark on a long car ride. Once you've found a prayer that addresses what you want to address in a certain situation to the best of your ability, why try to change it just for the sake of change?
Now, I will say that my father in law is a retired fire fighter. There is a specific fireman's prayer that he prays when he sees a fire truck w/sirens. I'll post the full thing, but he typically just says ""give them strength to save some life, whatever be the age"
When I am called to duty, God
whenever flames may rage,
Give me the strength to save some life
Whatever be its age.
Help me to embrace a little child
Before it’s too late,
Or some older person
from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently
to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling
and give the best in me,
To guard my neighbor
And protect his property.
And if according to Your will
I have to lose my life,
Please bless with Your protecting hand
My children and my wife
Posted by: lauren | December 10, 2008 2:54 PM
I think maybe there is more than one discussion going on here. When a Catholic says a "Hail Mary", we are truly asking for the attention of our Mother, Mary. We are not just rattling off words, there is a relationship here, or there should be. How many times do our children say "Mom, I need....(fill in request)"? They seldom change the tone or wording of the request because, as a family, we have learned how to communicate our needs.
Christians are a family and Christ gave His own mother to us to help us come closer to Him. He didn't just give her to Catholics. She is the Mother of all who claim Christ.
Children are repetitive. We should call on our brothers and sisters, and our Mother, in Christ as often as we can.
As for the Rosary. That is a different type of prayer entirely. The Rosary is a meditation on the life of Christ. The prayers are the lifting and shifting of our minds and hearts to a higher place and, with the help of Mary, bring us closer to Him. I can only touch on the sense of connection that is found when I meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ as I pray. It is a two-way conversation. Our Lord becomes present to me in different ways during each decade.
This is not to say that there are people that simply recite prayers to "do their duty". Even a person who prays the Rosary daily will find times when it seems like there is a lot of static on the line. Distraction can be an ongoing battle, and the prayers of the Rosary keep bringing us back to the heart of Our Mother and the feet of Christ.
Prayer in any form is such a beautiful part of the life of Grace. It is a Blessing to have this forum in which to share the ways that we are making this journey. Thank you Barbara.
Posted by: Jennifer | December 10, 2008 3:16 PM
Well, whoever offered the "dreaded prooftext" from Matthew should be careful, because the most memorized and recited prayer by evangelicals is in that chapter also.
I don't agree with your heading of this post though; this is not a contrast between all evangelicals and all Catholics. The evangelical community is quite diverse in this area. If you live in the Southeast, it's easy to forget that all Protestants aren't Southern Baptists. Plenty of evangelical Protestants have memorized prayers and use them faithfully.
I'm sorry so many people responded negatively to your conversion to Catholicism. Although significant divisions exist between it and the Protestant church, I hope we could all agree that members of both may be Christians. However, I do not feel the "call," as you name it. I am a happy Presbyterian. That means I have the freedom to kneel like an Episcopalian, raise my hands like a Pentecostal, and fight like a Baptist -- if I want to! :)
Posted by: mary kathryn | December 10, 2008 3:32 PM
I am an Anglican with Catholic leanings (an Anglo-Catholic if you will), and a couple of years ago my husband and I visited Nashotah House (a conservative episcopal seminary in WI) during an orientation when hubby was a postulate. We were sitting with seminarians at dinner and the subject of prayer came up, and then memorized prayer. One seminarian's wife joked about the "JeezuzWeejuz" type of prayer, as in "Jeezuzweejuz like to thank you for..."
Back to the subject at hand, I don't pray a specific prayer so much when I hear a siren, rather I make the sign of the cross. To a passerby (or even an unknowing passenger) it might not seem very heartfelt, but God and I know what it means, and that's what matters.
Posted by: Courageous Grace | December 10, 2008 4:35 PM
I regret that my quick clattering of keys resulted in all of this, Barbara... I wasn't intending it as a slam or rebuke at all. Some of the most beautiful prayers I've recently heard are those in the "Valley of Vision" collection from the Puritans. Certainly a memorized prayer could be helpful for those who desire to have it-- I was just sharing what *I* would probably do...
coming from an ENTP who is becoming more "P" (spontaneous and random) all the time. :)
Posted by: Jess @ Making Home | December 10, 2008 5:10 PM
Barbara, I just love the way you explain things, and convey your heart for God. I am not Catholic, but my dearest girlfriend and her husband are (she from birth, he a convert). I don't know of anyone else besides my own husband who I agree with more on almost all topics. I know of few people who are more faithful. They have taught me so much. Reading your blog makes me feel like I am visiting with a dear friend!
I grew up in a conservative United Methodist church. Other protestants criticize the Methodist use of liturgy and reponsive reading, etc. as well. I got away from that style of worship as a young adult, and now that I live in a country with very few churches to choose from I find that I miss it very much. I have bought and am still on the lookout for good resources for teaching my kids about the liturgical year.
I agree that many evangelicals pray on auto-pilot with their much used (and re-used) phrases. It's all about the heart!
I am not on the verge of converting, but reading your blog has really spurred an interest in studying church history and the saints and given me a lot of food for thought. Thank you for all that you teach and share.
Posted by: Sue | December 10, 2008 5:12 PM
I just found your blog via my del.icio.us account. I enjoyed your post. I am a cradle Catholic who loves to read conversion stories. I like these stories not because I want to have a feeling of "I win, you lose", but because I've always had my Catholic faith and I find it very interesting to read the stories of those who had to find it later in life.
Posted by: Tom A. | December 10, 2008 5:18 PM
I am a convert to Catholicism in 1991. I love my faith and I have lived in the South...just so many misconceptions and way too much judging. Congratulations on your new conversion. It was the happiest time of my life and I have never been the same since. Have a Blessed Advent!
Posted by: Faithfulmom2 | December 10, 2008 7:05 PM
Love all the comments. Thanks for opening discussion. It IS all about the heart, not the words, no matter what faith traditions you hold to.
Since you're on this subject, can I ask a peripherally related question? (And when I say, "ask a question," --please hear me here-I mean for honest understanding, not veiled accusation! I've just always wondered and never gotten around to asking.)
I've quite often seen short classified ads taken out in local newspapers that say things like, "Pray for us, St. Jude," or, "For healing: Say three Hail Marys every day for one month." I've also known of people being directed prescriptively by priests to, "Say three Hail Marys" and such. What is the point of publishing such a classified ad or "prescribing" a certain number of repetitions? It does strike me as superstitious formula if anything, but I have no idea what it's all about. Thanks for any input.
Posted by: Marian | December 10, 2008 10:01 PM
I am not a Catholic. (Actually I don't know what to call myself; I attend a Baptist church, but I don't like the term Protestant (I'm not protesting anything) and evangelical makes it sound like everyone else doesn't evangelize...)
Anyway, when I don't know what to pray, I pray the "Our Father" prayer. Sometimes I pray by singing songs, and sometimes I recite Psalm 23. All of these are essentially memorized prayer. I want to work more on memorizing more scripture, so that I can meditate on it; that's another form of memorized prayer. I know people who use other portions of the Bible to pray, like the blessings at the ends or beginnings of epistles or gospels. I find it hard to believe that non-Catholics would say prayers are bad if they are memorized. Because non-Catholics use less memorized prayers, we don't fall into the trap of saying them rotely--we just don't pray at the times a Catholic would say them by rote, which isn't any better.
Really calling myself a non-Catholic is silly too, because that's saying that I don't belong to a universal church, and I believe that I do... I wish there were better terminology.
I did stop reading at around the time you started your conversion journey, but it had nothing to do with that--I just dropped out of the blogosphere for a while.
I think what reinforces the idea for the rest of us that Catholics are not believers is the Catholics we see in public life--people like the Kennedy family, Kerry, etc. They tend to be people who, if they have a faith, they don't want it to affect their lives or politics, and they don't follow Catholic teachings, and so we wonder whether any Catholics do. It is somewhat hypocritical, though, because a Catholic could look at Obama and say the same of us--but we know he's not representative because we know so many others who are not like him. In either part of the church, there are those who grew up in the church or go just because it is the thing to do, and have no living faith--if only there were some way to easily distinguish them.
However, I've met so many Catholics online (not just you) who really do have a true faith that I am sure they aren't just misguided; I believe that the Catholic church is part of the catholic church. Most explanations of Catholic beliefs and practices by an informed person (sometimes here) leave me saying, "Ah, now I understand." Most of the things that Catholics do differently are not wrong, just different, and when they believe differently, it is often just a different perspective.
Posted by: ycw | December 11, 2008 7:17 AM
Whenever you get involved in a discussion like this, the real topic at hand is the literal interpretation of the bible, and as a Catholic, you are never going to get anywhere because the the Catholic faith is informed and fulfilled by tradition and other extrascriptural sources that evangelicals absolutely won't accept. You might as well say, "We pray the Hail, Mary because the Pope told us to do it," and get it over with.
I understand the desire for understanding, for everyone to get along, to share good things you've gained with others. But it was a revelation to me at one point in my life when I heard someone say that that very thing--the desire to agree and have consensus--can be an error and a sin in itself. Think about your metaphor of building bridges--who is crossing the bridge? Is it someone else, or you? I see you trying to defend elements of Catholic faith from protestant fundamentalist principles, and such a thing is not possible. What you have to come back to in any such discussion is biblical literalism, and a refusal to accept any practice or belief that is not spelled out, in English, in the specific bible they are holding in their hand.
A question I like to ask in this situation is show me the text in the bible that says that the bible is the absolute and sole authority. I also find it very persuasive to ask the person whether he/she thinks that Jesus failed in his mission on earth, since apparently they believe that everyone went to hell for over 1500 years after He came to earth to save the world.
Another strategy that I think is helpful is talking about the translations and interpretations of various texts. The proof text from Matthew does NOT plainly state that it is wrong to memorize prayers. It seems to be a warning against insincere prayer, but it is evangelical tradition to use this particular text as a criticism of the Catholic church. (In fact, many protestant traditions are formed not from biblical first principles, but in opposition to Catholic traditions.) So if you can get people to see that the Word of God always requires interpretation, and they are conforming not to the Word itself but someone else's interpretation of it, then that is a beginning to understanding the fullness of scripture (and in many cases this means that much of it is unclear and its meaning can't be derived starting only with our 20th century context and a KJ translation).
At some point it may be beneficial to stop addressing your critics in your writings, especially when they seem to be dragging you back over those bridges you just built.
Posted by: Catherine | December 11, 2008 8:52 AM
At some point it may be beneficial to stop addressing your critics in your writings, especially when they seem to be dragging you back over those bridges you just built.
As a mother of 12, I had to smile at this. While our family communication style is free-wheeling discussion - including disagreement and hashing out particulars, a couple of my children are uncomforatble with this. They would prefer that Mom - just shut up sometimes.
I'm not addressing my critics - they are not listening after all. I am sharing my experience, which some of the comments above have affirmed has been beneficial to at least a few people.
I don't take well to suggestions that I stifle my ideas or my writing. I'm glad you have "strategies" that work for you, but it's kind of strange to suggest that I follow your guidelines, don't you think? I'm not trying to build a consensus here, but simply offering food for thought. And perhaps I'm talking to different people than you are.
Posted by: barbara | December 11, 2008 3:19 PM
I go through this myself. As a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, I have discovered the joy and freedom of recited prayers. But I still use "spontaneous" prayers in both public and private prayer. I pray with evangelicals regularly and recited prayers don't really fit in that context. On the other hand, I have introduced them to the Eastern Church's Morning and Evening prayers and I know several non-Orthodox who are much more faithful in prayer than I am!
Personally, I love recited prayers. There are such beautiful prayers written by Godly men and women and I love the idea of saying the same prayers as people much holier than I. And I have found, once a prayer has been truly memorized, it ceases to be "recited" and can be prayed from the heart. One of the ancient ways of practicing meditative prayer is through the repetition of the Jesus Prayer: Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
At any rate, when I see an ambulance, or hear a sad story, or read a blog entry, usually I cross myself and say, "Lord, have mercy." Sometimes I feel I should pray more specifically, but in general, that seems to be enough. As an Orthodox, the Hail Mary is not used as often (we have a different prayer that we use), but it is a great prayer and seems to fit that kind of intercession very well.
Posted by: Lucy | December 11, 2008 3:26 PM
Thanks for making the point about all of us Christians having recited prayers (not just Catholics) and how sometimes they can be of great benefit and sometimes not so much so.
Posted by: Tari | December 11, 2008 10:45 PM
Barbara, thanks for your insight and this excellent article. Memorized prayer lets you focus on God and what's truly in your heart, not on your vocabulary. Without memorized prayer we wouldn't have our beautiful Most Holy Rosary and all the good that has come from the millions of times a day it is recited by the faithful. God Bless!
Posted by: Bob Cavalcante | January 9, 2009 10:37 AM
It's funny how the same issues from those considering "swimming the Tiber" come up over and over. Just tonight, on the phone with a family member who is close to converting, I heard "but what about memorized prayer?" There has been a lot of unhelpful information spread by those who think they have understanding but don't. As a Jew, Jesus - and also the Apostles - practiced memorized prayer everyday. Psalm 119 was meant to be memorized. Jews say many of the same prayers today that Jesus did in his day...
Posted by: Douglas | January 28, 2009 1:57 AM
I am a catholic Christian, follower of the Nazarene, and in conformance with the guidance of our spiritual leader, the Pope.
As for spontaneous prayer, I thank God for it.I had been brought up mostly with memorized prayers, but am grateful to have been introduced to spontaneous prayer by non-catholic Christians, in praying for the sick, etc.
But some of those prayer leaders use repetitive words like "just" that are extremely distracting to those in the group. I don't think they are aware of it and so I think spontaneous prayer leaders need to be groomed in the good choice of words when leading.
Posted by: Lawrence | September 12, 2012 8:16 PM