There was a show that used to come on television called “Pimp my Ride.”
Xzibit, the rapper, was the host of the show.
In the show Xzibit would go find people who had beat up cars.
I mean really beat up cars…
Messed up big time…
Sometimes they were barely drivable…
Then Xzibit would take that car to his team…
And the team would hook those cars up…
They called it “Pimp My Ride.”
Now since I’m a preacher…I have been trained to think theologically about EVERYTHING…
So for some reason Xzibit’s television show made me think of prayer…
In the book Sacred Art: Preaching and Theology in the African American Tradition Olin Moyd quotes Peter T. Forsyth who said: “The Christian preacher is not the successor of the Greek orator, but of the Hebrew prophet. The orator comes with inspiration the prophet comes with a revelation.”
The book suggests the following steps.
An important consideration to keep in mind so that one does not use God to force our own ideas is to be sure that all in the audience can say amen. So on a controversial topic the one giving the prayer should not say something like, “Lord we pray that you will help us all to see the wisdom of the current amendment.” More appropriately would be: “Lord we pray that you will help us make the right decision on this important amendment.” The goal is to get everyone in the church to be able to say “amen” to the prayer.
Now order it the following way:
Now let us assume that I have been asked to give a prayer at a civil rights gathering. The petition is that God will be with us and enlighten our minds. The reason for the request is so that we will make the proper decisions on some issue. The nature of God is wisdom which allows God to answer this petition. So we can have a prayer:
You have promised to give wisdom to those who would ask. Today we beg of thee that thou would enlighten our minds that we might make the correct decision.
In the name of Jesus,
Now let me see another situation. Let us say that I have been called to pray at a funeral that I had not prepared for. The central petition is that the family and friends will be comforted through a difficult time. The purpose is so that we can continue to live the way God would have us to live. Basically the purpose is to survive and thrive. God comforts the afflicted and gives strength to the weak. That is in the nature of God.
Oh Tender Comforter,
We know that you comfort the afflicted. We know that you give strength to those who are in great need and so we come asking that you would come here and spread that peace that passes all understanding. We ask that thou would do this so that we can continue to be a light to those who need our strength and courage in this trying time.
In thy holy and blessed name,
The first exercise in this very book is about praying without requesting anything just praising God. The texts that we are to read are: Revelation 4:6-11, Revelation 7:9-12, Psalm 8, and Psalm 65. After reading these we are to take a crack at writing out a prayer like this. And here is my first attempt.
Oh Mighty God,
You are worthy of all of the praise that we could possibly give to you. Oh everlasting One who was, is, and is to come, we praise thee for thy mighty power. We praise thee for thy strength. We praise thee for your glory.
Just as the trees wave their hands to thee we reach to heaven. Just as the birds sing praises to thee we open our mouths. Just as the angels of heaven pray, Holy, Holy, Holy, we today lift our voices with the heavenly beings and sing praises to thee.