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In Divine office or Liturgy of the Hours as it is practiced in Catholic Church there's nothing bad for Protestants (or at least nothing of which I know that Protestants consider bad); prayer is good for all Christians and Psalms are a good basis. However, most Protestants don't pray this way. Why?

Did any of the reformers condemn it? Or did this tradition just fade away over time?

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Sadly, in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, just being "too Catholic" was reason enough for most Protestants to dislike a thing. There was (and in some places still is) a very, very strong anti-Catholic sentiment amongst many Protestants. –  Affable Geek Feb 12 '13 at 13:52
As a Baptist, I got quite an earful when I added John Paul II to our prayer list back in '05. –  Affable Geek Feb 12 '13 at 13:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The key issue is not what is in the prayers, but that the prayers are repetitive. It seems to follow from this that prayers would not arise from a person's heart. Protestants generally believe pretty strongly that prayer should be spontaneous from a person's heart--not words that someone else wrote for them to read or recite.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us not to use "vain repetitions":

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matthew 6:7 KJV

The Psalmist also entreats us to pour out our hearts to God. In order to do this, rote prayers seems counterproductive.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 68:8 ESV

In fact, the Psalms are full of people pouring out their hearts to God. So, the model appears to be to pray from the heart rather than to repeat what others have written for us to pray. Of course, Protestants typically believe pretty strongly that we should read the Scriptures pretty regularly.

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It seems as a plausible reason why most Protestants finally abandoned Breviary, and and the same time it seems completely implausible to be true, rather based on misunderstanding. Since this web is more about beliefs of various denominations, it definitely owes +1. Other reason is that it might help us to uncover one of the roots of mutual misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants. I asked a question on this topic: How much are psalms and other prayers from Bible understood as actual prayer in Protestantism? –  Pavel Feb 11 '13 at 23:11
Hi Narnian. Do you happen to have any references for that application of Mt 6:7? I've checked several commentaries and looked at the Greek (esp. G945 "βαττολογέω"), and found that 1) many commentators seem to be in basic agreement re Mt 6:7; & 2) of the ones that I was able to check, none exegeted the verse to refer to the offering of prayers written by others. While it may or may not be too much of a stretch to apply the verse to monastic chanting, this post seems -- at least to me -- to further suggest that […] –  Philip Schaff Aug 30 '13 at 2:41
[…]offering a prayer that was previously composed by someone with a great gift for prayer would be displeasing to God. I find that idea troubling, as I've encountered people who are new to the faith and to prayer, and who have been very discouraged when they've heard that their efforts to communicate with God and their use of others' words to learn how to pray (see, for example, Luther’s Prayers, Ed. Herbert Brokering… or Mt 6:9-13, for that matter) could be rejected by the same God whom they’re trying to please, and the Bible instead teaches that Christians should encourage faith in others. –  Philip Schaff Aug 31 '13 at 3:41
@Narnian: What do you think? –  Philip Schaff Aug 31 '13 at 3:42
While this answer is undoubtedly correct to a great extent, there is also the fact that Protestantism is based on faith alone, and the Psalms invariable are not. All those Psalms about "Judge me o God. Vindicate my righteousness for I have kept thy law." Those aren't going to sit well with Protestant theology. –  david brainerd Apr 22 at 5:41

The Anglican church has not entirely done away with this, and has the Book of Common Prayer which has prayers and Psalms as well as bible readings, confessions, and creeds for each day of the week, as well as for group meetings, communion, weddings, funerals and so on.

The structure of Prayer in Protestant churches is often taught based on prayers and Psalms in the bible. I don't know of any Protestant teaching that would discourage someone from praying from any bible passage.

In fact, at our church on Sunday (an Anglican church in Sydney, Australia) we prayed Psalm 51 as a prayer of confession.

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I don't consider Anglicanism to be a subset of Protestantism, at least for the purpose of this question. –  Pavel Feb 28 '13 at 15:31

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