The Bible contains prayers and canticles (songs) that give us words to pray and praise. Many, such as the Lord’s Prayer, the Magnificat, and the Canticle of Simeon, have become part of the common prayer of the church liturgy. Yet any of these may also give voice to our own joys, yearnings and struggles. We truly pray the Lord’s Prayer when we take each phrase and make it our own, finding its truth reflected in our beliefs, needs, fears and aspirations.
Mary’s Magnificat can become our own song of exultation, hope and trust. There are times when we recognize with her that “the Mighty One has done great things for me” (Luke 1:49). We may know from experience what it means to be lifted up from lowliness, or we may see the emptiness of those who seem powerful and self-satisfied. Thus, we know that the truths spoken in Mary’s words are universal because they are so personal.
Sometimes we can personalize a passage of scripture by placing our own name in it. Some passages from the books of the Prophets lend themselves to becoming personal prayers as we make ourselves the recipients of God’s Word.