Engaging with different voices is always important. In blogging it is so easy to concentrate on your own view, and let other views orbit around it. “Four Questions” is a series on Everyday Liturgy which looks to authors & artists to ask them four questions about their craft.
In my role at The Plant Church I write prayers for our weekly services. It is a learned experience to balance both the personal devotion and movement of the Spirit in one’s own life with the community-driven message of God’s kingdom. In writing prayers for church, it is a deeply personal and integrally communitarian act of worship. You don’t want your prayers to be so personal that no one can see the universal message of the gospel. At the same time, you don’t want to write a prayer that is so broad that it loses your fingerprints on it. The psalms are a great example of this type of art. David and other poets signed their names onto poems that have resonated with the faithful for millennia. Scotty Smith’s new book, Everyday Prayers, is a collection of deeply personal prayers for every day of the year that are grounded in a daily Scripture passage. The text is caught in the tension of personal devotion and the universal reach of the gospel. It is great to see a voice that offers up worship in an honest and authentic way. I asked him four questions about the book and how he sees this style of devotional prayer influencing the church today.
EL: How do you see Everyday Prayers being used in personal and corporate devotion?
Scotty Smith: I’m getting great encouragement from individuals for whom the prayers give voice to the cry of their heart. I’m also having parents tell me they use the prayers as married couples and with their whole families. Some pastors have also indicated use of certain prayers in corporate worship. All of these are most encouraging.
EL: What is it about praying the way you do in the book that you find so exciting and life changing?
SS: We can hardly go wrong praying the Scriptures back to God, right? So these prayers offer me, and many others, a new way of meditating upon the Word, memorizing Scripture and praying according the heart of God. Also, because each of these prayers is written through the lens of the gospel of God’s grace, they enable believers to discover much more of the person and work of Jesus.
EL: Has Everyday Prayers been used as a resource in churches and small groups? What kind of feedback have you had?
SS: I’ve gotten great feedback from many quarters, as more and more people are discovering the book through friends, my prayer blog and other means.
EL: What is the biggest obstacle to cultivating this style of prayer in a person’s spiritual life?
SS: Bad theology (we really don’t believe God is this good and gracious); unbelief (it’s hard to believe God really wants to spend this kind of intimate interaction with us); lack of priorities (busyness, noise and muchness crowd out the important things of life); fear (can we really trust God with all our brokenness, weakness, struggles, anger and sin?)
My heartfelt thanks to Scotty for taking some time out of his day to answer these questions. Now it’s your turn. How would you answer these questions?