Many years ago, I was standing next to a dear friend in church whose little daughter was a babe-in-arms at the time - a little girl intent on emulating what the adults were doing during worship. The two-year-old raised her hands in praise like the rest of us, and worshiped our Heavenly Father by saying, "Holy Spirit, Hi-Ho-the-Derry-O!"
In my adult life, I've resisted rote prayer mainly because the prayers of my childhood tend to mesh with nursery rhymes just as they did for that little one reciting the refrain from The Farmer in the Dell. A friend says that his are not only rote, they are all in King James English (the Bible version his father preferred). But then I took a fresh look at a prayer that Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians in the Message Bible version, namely, Ephesians 1:17-23. By personalizing it, it becomes a wonderful prayer and a great way to start the day. It may become rote over time, but for me, right now, it is perfect:
I ask You, Father, the God of my Master, Jesus the Messiah, the God of glory:
To make me intelligent and discerning in knowing You personally, and to make my eyes focused and clear, so that I can see exactly what it is that You called me to do.
I ask You, Glorious Father, to empower me: To grasp the immensity of this Glorious way of life You have for me, and to comprehend the utter extravagance of Your work in me because I trust You.
And may I forever link into the same endless energy and boundless strength You exerted when You raised Jesus from the dead to set Him on a throne in deep heaven. You have put Him in charge of running the universe--everything from galaxies to governments. No name and no power are exempt from Jesus's rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. You placed Him in charge of it all, and He has the final word on everything.
I know that, at the center of all, Jesus rules those of us that are called by His Name, and we are not peripheral to the world. Rather, the world is peripheral to us. We are His Body on earth after all – the place from which He speaks and acts – and by which He fills everything with His Presence. And it is in His Name, I pray.
Note: We made a podcast of this prayer. Click here to hear it.