George A. Buttrick- at light speed

Over the past week I have been dipping into “Devotional Classics” edited by Richard J. Foster and James B. Smith.

Not all the writings appeal to me, but Richard and James have introduced me to George Buttrick, and his simple regimen of private prayer. It grabbed my attention.  My prayer life has needed refurbishing lately.

Here, at light speed, and ruthlessly edited down to a skeleton fleshed with my favourite quotes are his basics:

Prayer Prelude

Begin with a vestibule of silence, first focusing on the person of God and then affirming your faith, “All things, whatsoever ye ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive. ” “We take counsel with our certitudes, not with our doubts and fears.”

Four Stages:

THANKSGIVING: “We deliberately call to mind the joys of our journeys . . . to remind us of our ‘vast treasure of content’. The prayer should be quite specific: ‘I thank thee for this friendship, this threat overpassed, this signal grace.’ . . If we are thankful for everything, we may end up by being thankful for nothing.”

CONFESSION: “God has been exceedingly kind and I have given him selfishness for love. . True confession is neither self-excoriation-‘To be merciless with anyone, even ourselves, is not virtue,” nor casual evasion.’  The wise prayer of confession always leads us to an acceptance of God’s pardon. . . God does not wish us to remember, except as a reminder of our dependence, for he is willing to forgive anything.”

INTERCESSION: “Private intercession should be specific. . . Genuine love sees faces, not a mass: the good shepherd ‘calleth his own sheep by name.’ Intercession is more than specific: it is pondered: it requires us to bear on our heart the burden of those for whom we pray.”

PETITION: It comes last not because it is most important but because it needs the safeguard of earlier prayer. . . to try to thwart the prayer of petition is to deny human nature. The New Testament has better wisdom. ‘Be overanxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God’ It should always conclude with ‘Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.'”


“The intervals of these four prayers should be filled by meditation. After thanksgiving we should contemplate God’s abounding goodness, and await his word concerning his own gifts. After confession we should adore the pardoning Love made known in Christ.  After intercession we should pause to try to see the whole world’s need as Christ saw it from his cross. After petition we should wait again to meditate upon the Will.”

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


1 Comment »

  1. Janet said

    Yes, some good stuff there!

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