Some clarifications on prayer

I am delighted to learn that I have managed to awaken Mr Levy from his seasonal slumbers. I am sure that ripples of thankful applause are now washing around the globe from his fans. However, I must admit that I am slightly discombobulated to discover that he now suggests that I have offered what even he considers an overstatement. I am though, as ever, delighted with the faint nod of Levitical approval.

Might I offer a few brief clarifications?

First, my caveats did not concern reading or reciting aloud the prayers of Spurgeon or anyone else. I think some of those collections, recording as they do either the extemporaneous pleadings or the more carefully scripted written intercessions of men who lived close to God, are helpful models and prompts, but not mere vehicles to carry us around.

Second, I am fascinated by the suggestion that the Lord's prayer gives us an example of a written prayer to be recited. I would be interested to see that demonstrated in an exegetically watertight fashion, as I think there are some fairly substantial arguments to the contrary.

Third, I think that - taking into account the available data in the New Testament - it is fairly evident that it would be unreasonable to draw too many absolute parallels between corporate sung worship and corporate prayer. The line about hymns is a lovely, knockabout brickbat, but it rather misses the target.

Fourth, let me underline that avoiding written prayers is not the same as condoning or endorsing thoughtless, aimless, insubstantial and shallow praying. If Christ did not consider it a flawed request, "Teach us to pray," we should not consider it a flawed pursuit to learn to pray. But direction in prayer is one thing, and tying oneself up in a set form is another.

Fifth, the opening paragraph, for some reason, was unfinished. I may have deleted something before posting, hence the rather abrupt tone. I acknowledge that it sticks out rather, and it was not my intention to offer such a bald statement. The sentiment is mine, the form is unfortunate. Please bear that in mind. [NB the original post has now been updated to offer something of the original intention in the opening paragraphs.]

For the rest, I refer my honourable friend to the answer previously given by Mr Bunyan in his Discourse Touching Prayer, which contains many excellent things.