On Written Prayers — Thomas Howard, USA

John Wesley’s writing desk, Bristol UK

‘It is sometimes feared that to read a prayer is to cramp the liberty of the Spirit.

‘Yet we need only remember the use we make of hymns and psalms in our worship to see that it is often by our using these ‘second-hand’ or borrowed words that our own capacity to say what we would really like to say is very greatly enriched.

‘It is also helpful here to recall that Jesus and the Apostles used pre-cast forms of prayer. Spontaneity in worship is not the same thing as liberty.  The former very often drains off into banality or worse, since we, like St Peter at the Mount of Transfiguration, hardly know what to say in the presence of the Divine Majesty.’

‘On Written Prayers’, by Dr Thomas Howard (from The Liturgy Explained),
St Paul’s School, Chapel service and community gathering, 29 Oct 2018, Concord New Hampshire, USA