Excerpt from “Pilgrim of the Heavenly Way
3) Excerpt from “Pilgrim of the Heavenly Way” by Daniel Smith, Cap-de-la-Madeleine: Publications Chretiennes, n.d. pp 215-216
I recall an incident when returning to China after a furlough. As my custom was, I gathered believers on board for prayer and Bible study. Among those who came was an Anglican lady who read her prayers from the Prayer Book. I did not doubt her sincerity and I believe she found the prayers in that book a real help to express what she felt in her heart but could not herself put into fair language. But one day she voiced her protest to my own unrestrained prayer saying at the close of one session,
“Mr. Smith, why do you suppose your prayers are more acceptable to God than the lovely prayers composed by these most eminent divines?”
“Lady,” I replied, “I suppose no such thing. But I am the father of some small children. When my little ones come to me I do not want them to address me, for instance, in the language of Shakespeare and quote: “Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!” — or some such quote. I want them to speak in their own language, however faltering and ungrammatical it may be. I do not believe our Lord is interested in highly polished phrases of rhetoric, but loves rather the simple expressions of a heart that loves Him.”
I think she saw the point and next day came without her book and made the first attempt at extempore prayer. It was brief enough.
“Lord, bless the boilermen on this ship, Amen.”
That was all. But it sounded, oh, so sweet, and how pleasing to the Lord it must have been She went on frrom that time to be quite free in spontaneous prayer. It is not other people’s prayer which make us men and women of prayer. All true prayer is very personal and very intimate. I suppose Saul of Tarsus had been reciting prayers all his life but when he met the Lord ans was truly saved, then the Lord summed up his conversion ina pregnant little phrase, “Behold, he prayeth!”