Growing up in a liturgical church, I often grew tired of the remote prayers and weekly order of worship. The scripted words just kind of rolled off my tongue and were too easy to say without ever thinking or even feeling. I felt like I could go through the motions of worship without fully engaging my heart.
And later I was glad to move on to other styles of worship and more “heartfelt” prayers. At least, that is what I thought back then.
Recently, I have realized the value and purpose of those prayers and liturgy. Much liturgy is straight from scripture. For some churches, it is the only remaining remnant of the Gospel left, sadly.
This past Easter our very contemporary church was having a time of confession during worship. All of a sudden, the familiar words I recited weekly as a young girl popped up on the screen...
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
...and as the words and memories flooded my mind, I realized how thankful I am to have learned them at a young age. These prayers taught me how to talk to God. They taught me how to repent. They were a tutor for living the Christian life. And I'm grateful. Now, when I am at a loss for words to pray, these familiar words lead me to God.