Often, ministers are asked how to pray, and when to pray. Or, members of the congregation may feel shy about asking. It is sometimes helpful to weave simple prayers into sermons or newsletters. When discussing prayer, here are a few tips to pass along. Please visit our multimedia resources page for other offerings you may find useful.
Kickstarting the Prayer Life
First, set the stage. Explain that it takes time to get into a habit of prayer, but over time the prayerful life grows more and more rewarding, as we experience a more intimate relationship with God. Jesus had the custom to pray, alone and in private, and so should we. To help kick-start a life of prayer, you might offer some or all of these helpful hints:
- To help with the habit, associate prayer with other habits and activities that are already established as routine. Paste a morning prayer onto the bathroom mirror, to get into a habit as part of morning good-grooming. Or frame a morning prayer in a little frame, where you will see it on making breakfast. Or, consider a prompt, such as a little gratitude rock, that you carry in your pocket, or prayer beads. These are often associated with particular prayers, such as The Hail Mary.
- The evening can be a quiet time of contemplation, before sleep. It can be helpful to copy an evening prayer onto a 5×7 card, then frame it and put it beside the bedside for easy reference. Here are some possibilities you might offer:
- Copy a favorite psalm onto the ‘notes’ of smart phone or email program.
- Install a random prayer app on computer or smart phone. BibleGateway offers one for free. So do others.
- Communal prayer can be quite powerful, and another good reason to attend regular worship gatherings, Bible study, and Sunday services.
- Simple Mealtime Prayer:For these and all thy gracious gifts, may we be truly grateful. Amen
- Alternative Prayer:In a world of hunger and fear, you nourish our bodies and souls, shelter us and bring us peace. Help us bless others, as we ourselves have been blessed. In Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
- Wilderness Grace (Boy Scouts of America) For food, for raiment, for life, for opportunity, for friendship and for fellowship, we thank Thee, O Lord. Amen
- Traditional Prayer:Blessed art thou, Lord our God, creator of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Amen
- Christian Brothers’ Prayer: The Christian Brothers begin meals (and meetings!) with with “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God,” and close prayers with “Live Jesus in our hearts, Forever.”
You can transform a small area – with enough room to spend from a few moments to a few hours in prayerful contemplation. This area can be as formal or informal as you wish. You can transform a broom closet, or a simple desk and chair would work for the task as well. The following ideas can be useful
- prayers & thanksgiving – prayers that are ongoing, and prayers that have been answered. This can be accomplished with a simple thumbtack into a wall, chalkboards, or picture frames.
- bible and prayer books.
- prayerful ambiance. Creating a prayerful area where you can keep track of current prayers and remind yourself of answered prayers is as simple as taking a little space on your existing desk, or else tacking paper on the wall of your broom closet. Here’s an example – it has printouts agreeing with God’s Word, and chalkboards – prayers of thanksgiving on one side and prayers of supplication on the other. These are chalkboards that were created just for this very purpose and are easily found online. Printed prayers are easy to make lovely, with a crafting scissors.
- Simple Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the gift of another day. Please help me to feel your presence. Please guide me to use your gifts to good ends, as a way of giving back to you, in love and kindness. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
- Prayer from St. Patrick (abridged): [listen to prayer, plus full version, here] I arise today, through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through a belief in the Threeness, confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. I arise today through the strength of heaven, light of sun, brilliance of moon, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of wind, depth of sea, stability of earth, firmness of rock. I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to secure me. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. I arise today, through a mighty strength, The invocation of the Trinity, through a belief in the Threeness, confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation. Amen
- NHM Prayer of Sacred Belonging: Mother Mary cloak me in your mercy; hold me this day in the embrace of sacred belonging. Brother Jesus, take both my hands, hold me this day in the embrace of sacred belonging. Holy Spirit fill me, bind to me and heal me, inspire and enlighten me, empower and restore me, hold me this day in the embrace of sacred belonging. God in on and around me, above and below me, behind and before me, hold me this day in the embrace of sacred belonging.
- The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. [note: find multiple languages and versions here]
- A New Irish-Style Bedtime Prayer
As I lie down this very night I bid lie down with me
the peace of Father, Son and Spirit, blessed trinity. Amen.
- Traditional Bedtime Prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Angels watch me through the night, and wake me with the morning light. [ok to omit: If I should die before I wake, bless me Lord my soul to take. If I should live for other days, I pray the Lord to guide my ways.] Amen.
Throughout the Day (also useful as morning/evening prayers):
- Serenity Prayer: God, grand me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
- Lord’s Prayer: See above or our Lord’s Prayer resources.
- Prayer of St Francis: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury,pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
- Gratitude Walk: A gratitude walk can be surprisingly useful in changing our attitudes and perceptions. It’s simple: set out on a short walk, perhaps just around the block, with the intention of giving thanks for absolutely everything that is seen or that happens along the way, no matter what it may be. You might want to keep a journal of these walks, and your discoveries.
- Spiritual Bouquet: When feeling particularly down, think of someone else and pray for them. That sends them a “spiritual bouquet” and takes our mind off our own troubles, uplifting our spirits.
- Acknowledging God’s Works: When something strikes you as particularly beautiful, or poignant, why not stop for a moment of praise? It’s fun to imagine texting, “Hi God, me here checking in. ILY, Urock, cuL8r kbye xo -me.” We may not be able to do that, but we can acknowledge God under our breath. It’s not a bad habit to get into.
Any Step is Good
Here is a webpage on steps to specifically Christian faith for beginners
Sometimes, people can be afraid to pray. They may not realize that we can never be separated entirely from God, no matter what the circumstance, if we make the choice to humbly turn back again towards God. God, the Father, lovingly awaits the prodigal son. Furthermore, there are many ways to raise our hearts and minds to God. Just as there’s no such thing as a “bad” question except the question that goes unasked, so it may be with prayer. Rather than leaving prayer unsaid, remember that there is no heart too broken, no pain too deep, no doubt too silly to take to God. Even anger is valid; it’s expressed through some of the psalms. And even if we’re feeling far from God, God is as close as our very breath.