We all know the Lord’s Prayer off by heart, right? I know for many people it’s got a bit of a bad rep from enforced carol services at primary school but personally, I love it. Saying that prayer during a difficult time in my faith enabled me to speak to God when I didn’t know what else to say. And what better way to pray than how Jesus himself taught us to pray. As incredible as those words are there is more than just one way to speak to God – prayer is dynamic, creative and at its heart, a conversation with the Father who created us. If you’re feeling like you’re in a bit of a rut and want some creative ways to get praying then look no further – I’ve got you covered.
When we want to pray for our local community a prayer walk can be really effective. You can do a prayer walk in groups or on your own and in a nutshell, you pray for what you see! Plan a route around your local area and think of some topics to pray about before you go to help prompt you. If you see a group of parents with their children, you could pray for the families in your area. If you walk past a church, you might pray for their ministry in reaching the local community. If you see an ambulance drive past, you can pray for the emergency services caring for the individuals around you. If you’re on your own you can pray as you walk but if you’re in groups you could stop after a couple of streets and gather together to pray for the things you’ve seen so far before you carry on.
Want to pray for a variety of issues but not really sure where to begin? Why not try a prayer resource that guides you with topics to pray for and provides lots more creative ideas. Tearfund has loads of resources to help you pray for issues like global poverty, which you could use in a group, at church or on your own to really wrestle with God over the things you care deeply about. Prayer stations are often interactive, don’t take a huge amount of time to do and help you to pray in different ways for things you wouldn’t necessarily think to pray for. Head to www.tearfund.org/pray to download prayer station ideas focusing on our relationship with God and local and global poverty.
WRITE IT DOWN
If you’re naturally more of a writer than a talker, why don’t you try putting pen to paper and writing your prayers to God? I love to write down prayers, it can be really revealing to write things down – helping me to realise things going on in my heart that I struggled to identify before. Writing our prayers down can also be really encouraging when we look at our journey in faith. I find it so helpful to look back over prayers and see where God has answered prayers, sometimes years later and sometimes in the immediate. Sometimes I think of it as writing a journal but rather than to no one, or a made up reader, I’m writing to the Father who created me and who loves me. It brings new meaning and depth to my prayer life.
Lectio Divina is Latin for ‘Diving Reading’ – it’s an ancient way of reading the Bible and meditating on God’s word. I started doing this when I was in youth at church on a weekend away. While it’s not something I do regularly (I’ve found it takes a while!) when I’m not rushed for a quiet time in the morning it’s been a really wonderful way to engage with the word of God and to pray in a deep and different way. The aim is to take time to really savour and mull over a passage and to create space for you to respond to what you feel God is saying to you. It’s a four step method which starts with (1) reading a passage, (2) meditation, (3) prayer and finally (4) contemplation. There are loads of resources online to help you and I’d encourage trying to sit quietly to contemplate God’s words to you.
MEET A FRIEND
This might sound obvious or a bit basic, but to be honest I don’t regularly meet with friends specifically with the intention of praying. If you or a friend are going through a tough time you might be meeting up to chat about it anyway, so this could be a really helpful way to get praying. If you’re nervous about praying in a public place, remember you don’t have to make a big song and dance of it, nor do your eyes have to be closed and your hands clasped together. Although if that’s what you want to do, I doubt anyone would notice. The easiest way to do this is to weave prayer into every time you see or hang out with friends. I’ve found it really encouraging to spend even just 5 minutes praying before we leave after seeing someone for coffee or catching up over lunch. It makes you feel listened to, cared for and built up in your faith and just requires you to say three little words: shall we pray?
However you pray, it’s so important to do! Through prayer we deepen and strengthen our relationship with God, and what a privilege to be able to speak directly to our creator! Finally, I’ll leave you with a challenge – If all your prayers were answered would it change the world, or just yours?