"No man can assure me that the words of his ex tempore prayer are the words of the holy Spirit: it is not reason nor modesty to expect such immediate assistances to so little purpose, he having supplied us with abilities more then enough to expresse our desires aliundè, otherwise then by immediate dictate; But if we will take David's Psalter, or the other Hymnes of holy Scripture, or any of the Prayers which are respersed over the Bible, we are sure enough that they are the words of Gods spirit, mediately or immediately, by way of infusion or extasie, by vision, or at least by ordinary assistance. And now then, what greater confidence can any man have for the excellency of his prayers, and the probability of their being accepted, then when he prayes his Psalter, or the Lords Prayer, or any other office which he finds consigned in Scripture? When Gods spirit stirres us up to an actuall devotion, and then we use the matter he hath described and taught, and the very words which Christ & Christs spirit, and the Apostles, and other persons, full of the Holy Ghost did use; If in the world there be any praying with the Spirit (I meane, in vocall prayer) this is it."Jeremy Taylor, An Apology for authorized and set forms of Liturgy against the Pretence of the Spirit (1649). (I thought for a moment about modernising Taylor's language, but how can one touch the prose of this "Shakespeare amongst the Divines"?)
I quoted this paragraph from the great Anglican divine over at an evangelical Anglican forum (Sydney Anglicans here in Australia) where they are kind enough to let this ex-Anglican participate. The subject of discussion is the need to re-consider the place of liturgy in their tradition in response to the subjectivism of the non-liturgical worship they are used to. But these thoughtful folk will have to overcome deep-set prejudices if they are to lead their people way back to the riches of liturgical worship. Just why do people who sing the same song chorus over and over baulk at the thought of praying written prayers, even when those prayers are taken from Spirit-inspired scripture? It is surely one of the great mysteries of modern church life!
I was reminded of something that was said following the baptism of our first son, which took place during a typical Lutheran communion service with a sung liturgy. My wife's uncle, a lay preacher (yes, I know it's an oxymoron, but I use the term purely in the descriptive sense) with the Assemblies of God, remarked afterwards that "in our service we hear mostly the word of a man, but in your service you hear mostly the Word of God." I couldn't have put it better myself!