I used to tune out every time I heard a prayer written by someone else. When I began to understand my relationship with God as that, a relationship, I found pre-written prayers dry. They seemed inauthentic to me. I wanted to speak to God with my own words. My prayers were spontaneous utterances of thanksgiving, praise, and love.
This is not a bad thing.
These impromptu prayers helped me express myself to God in the way the liturgy of my youth did not. I felt His presence. I grew in my love.
But the longer I follow God, the more I appreciate the prayers I used to ignore.
When I compare my relationship to God to another important love relationship in my life, my marriage, I begin to understand.
I feel loved when my husband spontaneously expresses his love to me. When he sees me enter a room and tells me I am beautiful. When he thanks me for making dinner.
But I also feel loved when my husband thoughtfully expresses his love to me. When he finds me the perfect gift. When he takes the time to craft me a love note.
Who would not want the one she loves to recite to her "How do I love thee, Let me count the ways" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning? Or even better, an original poem?
Love is found in words that take time. Beauty created to express the splendor of the beloved.
This is the power of historic prayers.
They help me express myself to God in words I cannot find myself. They inspire me to slowly create my own poetic prayers.
So, on Saint Patrick's Day, I thought it appropriate to reflect upon the Prayer of Saint Patrick. As is true of many old prayers, this is attributed to him, but may or may not have been actually written by him. That doesn't matter to me. Because either way, this prayer inspires me.
It is long. Longer than I could fit on the picture below. But yet, its thought could have been expressed easily in a tweet. "God, be in and around everything I do, see, and think this day."
This prayer is not in a hurry. It thoughtfully expresses dependence on God in all things. It shows a desire for God to the central focus of life.
I am inspired by this prayer to linger a little longer. To craft words a little more carefully. To write God a love poem. I hope it inspires you, too.
For the full prayer, see Saint Patrick's Breastplate on Wikipedia. Above are some of my favorite parts. Click on it to print or download it as an 8 x 10. Or simply read it and enjoy.
If you like this, you may also enjoy some of the other printables available on the Resources page.