Hey God. It’s me. You know that sometimes I’m good at talking and sometimes I am good at listening. Help me to know that you always hear me and surround me with people who love you. Amen.
At its most basic, prayer is honest communication with God. God doesn’t require you to use a specific set of word when you pray. You can be use formal prayers (the type of prayers you often hear in worship) or informal prayers (something as simple as “Thank you, Lord”).
Across the centuries, God’s people have practiced countless form of corporate prayer (prayer in groups) and individual prayer (prayer by yourself). Below are 10 options for prayer adapted from a book entitled, “A Praying Congregation” by Jane Vennard. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a starting point to give you an idea of some of the options that are available to you when you decide to pray. Each option provides a different way that you might be able to talk to and listen to God.
1. Intercessory Prayer
• Asking God to intercede in our lives, our communities and the life of the world
2. Body Prayer
• Using your whole body while you pray
3. Arrow Prayers
• Informal prayers spoken aloud or silently in our hearts in the midst of our daily life
• Most common are Help and Thank You
4. Musical Prayers
• Prayers that are sung or chanted
5. Centering Prayer
• Ancient form of prayer that helps us to rest in the presence of God
• Select a sacred word to remind you of your intention to rest with God. Begin a time of silence (15 to 20 minutes) and when your mind begins to wander, take note of what you are thinking about and then say / think the sacred word to remind yourself to return to resting with God
6. Lectio Divina
• A method of prayer which uses repeated readings of scripture to focus thoughts and prayers
• Select a passage of scripture and read it through once and then spend a few moments in silence reflecting on the passage. Read the passage through a second time and listen for a word or phrase that jumps out to you. Read the passage through a third time and think about what the text is saying to your life today.
• Ongoing prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude
8. Work and Service
• “Our relationship with God calls us into the world to work and to serve. We are God’s hands, feet, and voices in the world. . . . Grounded in our relationship with God and holding the intention to include God in all we do, the work itself becomes a prayer.” (pg. 129-130)
9. Praying Out Loud
• Many people are uncomfortable with praying out loud or in groups, but there are times and places where God calls all of us to pray out loud and the best way to be prepared is to practice.
10. The Lord’s Prayer
• When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus taught them the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer can be used by itself or as a model for prayer.
Making the Connection
Some approaches to prayer work better in groups. Some approaches to prayer work better when you are alone. No one form of prayer is better than any other. The key is to find an option that fits your time and place and give it a try.
If you aren’t sure how to begin, try one of the two approaches listed below.
This approach to Intercessory Prayer adapted from a suggestion by Pastor Mike Foss in his book, “Real Faith for Real Life“.
- Pick a good time for prayer. Look for a time without distractions.
- Pick a good place for prayer. Find a spot that is comfortable. It can be a place apart or a spot in your regular daily routine. The choice is yours.
- “Expect that God will meet you, and trust that God will bless this time.” p. 20
- Begin the prayer as if you are talking to a best friend.
- Give thanks to God for the blessings in your life.
- Talk about your mistakes or shortcomings and thank God for grace and forgiveness.
- Share those things that are most important to you.
- Prayer for others or for situations in the world by name and ask for God’s presence, guidance and help.
- Sit in silence and listen to God.
ACTS: The ACTS model for prayer walks you through four phases of conversation with God. Use words and phrases that you would use in normal life. Simply talk to God as you would talk to a friend and cover these for areas.
- Adoration – Praising God for who God is or what God has done. Ex: “God, you love me and you are always there for me”
- Contrition – Admit the things you have done wrong and ask for forgiveness. Ex: “I was mean to my friend today. Forgive me for being rude and help me to do better in the future.”
- Thanksgiving – Say, “Thank you” for the good things in your life. Ex.: “Thank you good for good friends and for parents who listen and care for me.”
- Supplication – Ask for God’s help for someone else. Ex: “Be with my friend, Mary, who is sick. Help her to feel better.”
Some people people pray on a daily basis. Some people pray on a weekly basis. God is happy to hear from you whenever you want to pray, so give it a try.
Action and Reflection Questions
- Today, pick one form of prayer that you think you already do well and say a prayer. Don’t worry about knowing the right words or form, simply talk to God in prayer and be open to God’s presence in your prayer life.
- Tomorrow, pick one of form of prayer that touches your heart and give it a try.
- Ask your parents, friends, spiritual mentor or pastor about their favorite prayer or style of prayer.
- In the comments below, list the type of prayer that you think is most helpful to you and say why.
God, you are amazing. You know I have days when I’m not the person you want me to be. Forgive me and show me a better way. I am thankful, God, for good friends, for family, for good fun and good time. Help me to enjoy and appreciate this moments of joy. Give help, God, to everyone who is hurting and in need. Amen.