Is it ok to use other peoples prayers?

Macaila Britton writes about prayer, connection, and struggle, for Woman Alive magazine.

Last month I was listening to “The Next Right Thing”, a podcast by Emily P Freeman. In Episode 93Emily talks about the power of borrowing a prayer. I’ll admit it, when this episode played and she was introducing the topic, I found myself placing much closer attention as I listened closer to her next words. The phrase “borrow prayers” kept coming up which had my gears shifting in what felt like a million and one directions. At one point I ended up pausing the episode to take in what she was saying. By the end of the short episode, I found myself with quite a few nuggets of truth and these helped me pay closer attention to my prayer life. Since listening to this episode I found myself implementing what Emily suggested – borrowing a prayer.

Prayer is the foundation in which our relationship with God lays upon. Prayer is how we communicate to Him and He to us. Prayer is the way we lament, grow, listen, and respond. Prayer strengthens us and stretches us. Prayer is the way to spiritual development and our lifelong necessity. I can’t tell you how often over the years I have delayed praying because I couldn’t think of anything to say or the flip side, how many times I’ve laid in bed and accidentally fallen asleep mid-prayer. Oftentimes I find myself thinking how boring I must sound to God or how repetitive. I’ve had many conversations and have also felt the distance firsthand with praying. When I was in high school I would listen to these great stories of folks in church or read about the journeys in my devotion and I would feel left out how did these people have such strong prayer lives and how do I get one? While my prayer life is still a work in progress and something that challenges me daily, Emily’s words rang true to how we should indeed approach prayer- by borrowing one. 

Borrowing a prayer isn’t a black market deal or shameful thing to do. I never thought about borrowing a prayer before because I simply did not know I could. In school we are taught of plagiarism and how copying- even borrowing- is frowned upon, yet Emily was suggesting I do this very thing- take someone’s perfectly crafted, personal words, use them as my own, and present them to God?! Okay… sounds like a straight shoot to hell if you ask me. But, the more I scrubbed the pots and pans, thought about her points, and pinpointed them in my own life, I realized there is such power and truth with borrowing a prayer. I have heard pastors advising and devotionals prioritizing “praying scripture”- this is essentially the same thing. Borrowing a prayer comes in many forms, one of which some of us may already be including in our daily routine. Reading God’s work and praying this over our own life, a friend’s, community member, or the world is borrowing a prayer- God’s utmost perfect words, and speaking this holy prayer to Him. When we borrow scripture as a prayer, we are affirming God’s character, His power, and submitting before Him.

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