ROTE PRAYER [rōt pre(ə)r, noun] A prayer which has been memorized.
A lot of Protestants look down on rote prayers. The thinking is if you recite your prayers from memory, you don’t actually mean them: You’re parroting empty words to God, and they don’t count.
And that’s exactly right. If you don’t mean them.
When you do mean them, that’s another thing altogether. When we recite the Lord’s Prayer, and mean it—when we meditate on it, make Jesus’s words our own, and want God’s will to be done when we recite “Your will be done”—rote prayers are extremely powerful.
You see, we don’t always know what to pray. Though prayer is simply talking with God, for a lot of Christians there’s nothing simple about it. We get tongue-tied. We stumble. We don’t know how far we can go with our requests. We don’t know how far we can go with our praise. We struggle to share our feelings, our innermost thoughts, with everyone, and God is no exception. We fumble at prayer. Then we feel bad about it, and and don’t do it, and avoid God. And we shouldn’t. We need to pray.
That’s where rote prayer comes in.
It is okay to take someone else’s prayers, and pray them. It’s not plagiarism. God is fully aware you didn’t write it. But if it expresses how you feel, or if it says the sort of things you want to say to God, it’s totally fine with him if that’s what you pray. And totally fine with your fellow Christians: We have a long, long history of rote prayers. The Psalms are rote prayers, you know.
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