Prayer is the beating heart of life lived with Jesus Christ.
Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5.
We want to give you these tips and encouragements about prayer, to help you connect with the living God who created you, loves you, and deeply desires connection with you.
We all become who we are in relationship with others. Our parents and ancestors, our friends, our neighbours, our leaders and even our enemies shape and mould our lives. We can’t avoid this – as social beings, we are deeply affected by the actions and opinions of the people we are connected to.
As we pray, we grow in relationship with God, who sees and knows who we truly are; who we were created to become – our best possible selves. As we connect with God, we become more and more the people we were made to be, we go deeper into fullness of life. The way to become our best and truest selves, is to pray.
But I don’t know how!
Prayer is a little bit like your first kiss. You might feel awkward and nervous, but it’s a natural part of who we are, and so if you go for it, you’ll quickly feel comfortable doing it.
There are as many different ways to pray as there are people in the universe. Each one of us is unique, and we all connect to God in our own way. The best way to learn to pray is to do it – to try as many different ways as possible, and see what works for you.
Prayer is essentially just communicating with God. ‘Prayer is like a telephone, for us to talk to Jesus’ as the old song goes. Prayer can be as simple as chatting with God, as we would to a friend. But any form of communication can be prayer: music, art, writing, even silence can be parts of prayer.
When we talk about prayer, many people think of asking God for help with things, like if a friend is sick, or we want to pass a job interview. This is a part of prayer, but only one part of it. Prayer encompasses many different things. If you only ever spoke to your parents when you wanted to borrow money from them, something would be off. In the same way, we miss out if we only talk to God when we need something.
When, where, how long?
Pray in whatever way practically works for you! Here are some tips:
– Many people find it helpful to pray first thing in the morning, before the worries or stresses of the day pile up, or last thing in the evening, to let go of and review the day with God.
– You might find it helpful to have a particular area of the house where you pray – an armchair you always sit in for example.
– Lighting a candle has been used since ancient times as a symbol and aid to prayer.
– You may want to pray when you’re out for a run or walking the dog
– There are no rules about how long you should pray for, and no rewards either. Pray for as long as you want to and feel able. The more important thing is being regular in prayer. Try and spend some time in prayer every single day, even if it’s just five minutes.
Below are three kinds of prayer which change slightly every day, but which follow the same structure. All are based on readings from the Bible.
If you pray them through on your own, they’ll take about 20 minutes. You could also sing or listen to some music as part of your prayer. You could try praying each one for a week.
Here are some free apps, available on Android or Apple devices, which can help you establish and maintain a rhythm of prayer.
- Bible in One Year ( Apple I Android )
- If you follow this app each day, you’ll read through the whole Bible in one year. You can hear the readings, and there are some inspirational words to help you reflect on each day’s readings.
- Reimagining the Examen ( Apple I Android )
- The examen is an ancient form of prayer, developed by St Ignatius of Loyola. It’s particularly useful as a reflection at the end of the day. This app gives a number of different approaches to praying the Examen.
- Lectio 365 ( Apple I Android )
- Lectio is another ancient way of reflection on scripture. This app leads you through a meditation on a different passage of scripture each day
- Common Worship Daily Prayer ( Apple I Android )
- This app from the Church of England allows you to join in Daily Prayer that happens in churches around the country. There are different readings for each day, following the same structure. It includes prayers for the morning, evening and night, each one taking around 20 minutes if you pray it alone.
Praying with Children
Children can connect with God just as adults can. Here are some tips to help children learn that God loves them and wants to speak with them.
- Bedtime is often a great opportunity to take time to pray. If you read your children a bedtime story, or sing them a song, why not also say a prayer with them? Don’t worry if you feel self-conscious about it; just pray however comes naturally to you. The best example will be you praying honestly to God – your children will pick up on the honesty of your approach.
- Younger children love structure and repetition. There are various ways to help children structure prayers. One example is TSP (teaspoon): Thankyou, Sorry, Please. Tell God something you’re thankful for, say sorry to God (could be silent if they don’t want to say it out loud), ask God ‘Please’ for something. Another is PRAY: Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield (listen). Praise God for something good in your life, Repent (say sorry), Ask God for help for yourself or others, and Yield – accept and pray that God’s will be done in your life.
- There are some great Bibles that are designed for helping Children engage with the Christian story. Two that we’d particularly recommend are:
- The Jesus Storybook Bible – simple enough for younger children, but profound enough for adults to get something out of. Beautifully written stories and wonderful illustrations. Shows how the whole Bible points the way to Jesus.
- The Action Bible – The Bible as a graphic novel. Good for children who can read independently. Helps the stories of the Bible come alive in an age-appropriate way.
- Compline is a service designed to be said before bedtime. Because much of the prayer repeats every day, children can pick up on the responses and join in with them. They can even practice leading it themselves once they can learn to read. You can find the compline prayer in the Church of England daily prayer app ( Apple I Android )
- An examen is a great way to end the day. You could adapt one of the examen prayers from ‘Reimagining the Examen’ ( Apple I Android ) For an example of an examen designed for children, click here.
- The following prayer of blessing from the Old Testament is a lovely thing to pray over your children before they fall asleep: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)
Let us pray for you
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