Common Prayers

I am new to the bible and all I want to do is learn the common prayers. I do not know the names, but for example the now I lay me down to sleep, etc.

Thank you for writing. I do not have any list or copies of common prayers to say. In fact, your question brings up an interesting topic. That is, whether or not we should pray memorized prayers.

Evidently, the thought behind memorized prayers is that people who have a superior ability to put thoughts into words can write the prayers so that those without such an ability can say them. However, there are definite dangers in memorized prayers. Jesus warned His listeners, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7). Clearly, some people memorize prayers and then mindlessly repeat them often, thinking that their very repetition has some kind of power. However, Jesus said that these repetitions were vain; that is, empty and useless. They do no good to the one praying nor to anyone else.

Another problem I see in memorized prayers is the tendency to make people think that they are not really praying unless they can use such lofty language in their prayers. Even when they try to pray on their own, they do not use their natural speech, but try to speak in elevated sentences and with deep meaning. But, in effect, they lose the chance to speak simply to God from their heart in natural, conversational, speech. Prayers are not more powerful because they use more difficult sentences. Effective prayers are those spoken from the heart.

I am not saying that all written prayers or memorized prayers are evil. I learned the "Lay Me Down to Sleep" prayer when I was a child and still remember it. It was a good starter prayer. Such prayers can be a training tool for children. Also, many people pray what they know as the Lord's Prayer (although I call it the Disciple's Model Prayer). We need to know that Jesus gave this prayer in order to teach His disciples the elements of good prayer. It was not given as a memorized prayer that was to be said in a ceremonial way. Again, I am not saying that it is evil to do so. However, it can be misleading. Many people think they receive a special blessing for saying the "Lord's Prayer." It is scripture and it is certainly good, but God would rather hear us speak to Him from our heart for two minutes than have us say the "Lord's Prayer" a thousand times. As such, it is nothing more than a vain repetition.

I am not scolding you for seeking the words to these prayers. However, I encourage you to learn to speak to the Lord from your heart. There is no magic or super-effectiveness in saying the right words. The Holy Spirit makes intercession for our "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26). What is important is that we are pouring our heart, even our very soul, out to God. Hannah testified, "I...have poured out my soul before the LORD" (1 Samuel 1:15). David told the people of Israel, "pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us" (Psalm 62:8). Learn to do this and you will find that He truly will hear and answer your prayers. May the Lord help you as you call unto Him.

David Reagan
Daily Proverb

Proverbs 16:25

There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.