One thing that I have started to ponder upon, consequent upon visiting several churches earlier in the year, is the issue of pre-written prayers.
I have to confess that this is something I have not previously given a lot of thought to. In leading from the front in prayer I have been of the school of thought, that you address your Father and God in an extempore fashion according to as you are inclined in heart and mind at that time. Without dwelling upon it, the assumption behind that approach is a belief in the Holy Spirit guiding you. And if you have been with the Lord during the week, then you will be led in an appropriate way to bring matters before the Lord.
The danger of this approach though, is that we can attribute our sloppiness and disorderliness to the Holy Spirit when it is simply us not having given ourselves to sufficient preparation. One critical aspect of that preparation is rightly the preparation which comes from ongoing fellowship with the Lord so that we are in the right heart frame.
However, should I not also be thinking about the content of my prayer? Is there anything about our God and His Son, our Saviour, we want to dwell upon? Are there any particular blessings to consider? And what specific issues can we be bringing before God?
We could write these out and there is no problem with that. We could have a list that prompts us or we could read them what we have previously prepared in a verbatim fashion. Alternatively, we could simply have things in our heads. Which ever way it is, I am challenged that more preparation is needed.
In all this though we need to be reminded from Matthew 6:1-7 how our Lord taught that we should neither do our praying for show nor just have vain repetition. And, dare I say, that can happen whether you have prepared prayers or extempore prayers.