By Caitlin Woodward
I picked up the copy of The Treasury of American Prayer by James P. Moore, Jr. I studied the corners and cover of the outside. I opened it to scan the introductions, meet the author, and read the prologue. “Impress me,” I thought to myself.
Picture America for a moment. Thousands of different conclusions could come from each of you. Happily settled in a safety net of prayer and simple devotion isn’t something that comes to my mind.
James R. Moore Jr., creator of the American Prayer Project, has brought together collections of poems and prayers from America’s past 300 years.
Moore’s intentions were to gather the prayers and stories of varying people throughout history that have impacted our nation in order that we may “understand the country we have inherited today and how we might face the formidable challenges of the twenty-first century.”
Yet, we are in a more difficult position. Those that claim to be truly “wrecked for the ordinary” – God is challenging us to respond more actively and selflessly in prayer.
I was disappointed.
My heart is deeply set in the practice of intercession for people, Kingdom, nations (including America). I’ve seen and experienced the power of falling at the Lord’s throne with nothing and asking of nothing but Him.
Reading through the delicately-spaced poems of prayer in this book, I felt like I was holding a fragile attempt to motivate. I challenge a reader of this collection that they look past themselves. Die to yourself once again before opening the cover. I pray the words of America’s selfishness and pettiness from the cries of our people hit your heart. Our God is not a genie in a bottle so we should stop treating Him as such.
As the title invites us into a treasury of sort, I will admit that I found a few gems of truth. I can hold onto those, but it was my own prayers that helped me continue to finish this book. Has that ever happened to you before? You read a good book, and the Spirit falls on you in a way that draws you into His presence in prayer, a discussion with the Father. Well, this time, it was all I could do to keep coming back to the Almighty in true worship and adoration. Nothing in that personal cry was made up to sound right. My own prayers and conversation with God proved better than ingesting 300 pages of sugar. There was little meat so my stomach hurt after a while.
I’m not pessimistic. I am hopeful. Hopeful for America and the Kingdom-building prayers from a new and wrecked generation. I believe lives, hearts, and a nation can change to be more Christ-like if that’s where our prayers begin.
Caitlin graduated from Asbury College with a degree in Media Communications and a desire for something more. She recently returned from traveling with Adventures in Missions on their World Race program. She’s been wrecked for this nation and desperately wants to see the youth and young adults of American know God more intimately, actively, and selflessly.