In Luke 11, the disciples say to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray."
There are many methods and types of prayer. Below you will find five different types/methods of prayer. We hope that you will at least try each out. We each connect with God in different ways and there are different ways to pray. The important thing is that we each find a way of praying that we enjoy (remember John Wesley taught that we should enjoy prayer!) and that we commit to being people of prayer!
Method 1: Pray Differently!
Usually when we pray in church, we bow our heads and close our eyes. Often this is how people pray at home as well. The suggestion for today is to pray differently!
Consider different ways to posture yourself (pick a way you have never done or not done in a while) rather than sitting/standing/laying down:
Kneel in prayer
Prostrate yourself (Laying face down on the ground--the ultimate sign of humility. This is the posture many took when meeting Jesus, for example in Luke 5:12-13)
Stand with arms outstretched, fingers spread, and palms up (like in the picture). This is an ancient posture of prayer symbolizing an act of surrender to God as well as a petition to receive God’s blessings.
Practice Genuflection by bending one knee in reverence as one would do to a king.
Walking/Running--Prayer walks/runs can be a good way to connect with God.
Drawing/Doodling/Coloring--For those who may be able to focus more on God if they are doing something with their hands
Consider different ways to offer your prayer rather than silently (pick a way you have never done or not done in a while):
Praying aloud. Speak your entire prayer in an audible voice.
Singing. Seriously, sing your prayer to God if music helps you connect to God!
Writing. Write out your prayer...either in a journal or just on a piece of paper. Typing is ok, but writing is recommended.
Drawing (or another form of artwork). Different from doodling or coloring while you pray, some can express their prayer better with art than words.
Pray with someone else. If you always pray alone, why not try praying with a friend or family member?
Hopefully these suggestions can enhance your prayer life! If you still struggle with what to pray, remember that you can always pick a Psalm to pray (from the Bible) or pray the Lord's Prayer. The important thing is to practice prayer! The more you pray, the closer you will grow to God; the closer you grow to God, the easier it will be to pray. There is no reason to feel guilt if prayer still seems difficult or awkward for you. Keep trying and don't hesitate to reach out to me (Rev. Amanda) or anyone in our church if you need more guidance or suggestions!
Method 2: SOAPY (Type of Scripture Meditation)
You are encouraged to incorporate Scripture into your prayer time. We can simply read the Scripture or we can meditate on the Scripture. Below is a method to help you meditate on the Scripture and incorporate prayer. The SOAPY method is based on the teachings of Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu. You will need a pen/pencil and a journal/paper to complete.
S is for Scripture. Begin by reading a passage of Scripture (Acts 2:43-47 is a text for Sunday if you need a suggestion). Write down the verse that touches your heart or the verse you feel God is using to teach, encourage, direct or correct you.
O is for observation. What lesson does this verse teach you? Write down what you feel God is trying to reveal to you through the verse.
A is for application. How can you now apply the lesson/teaching you observed in step 2? Write about how you can apply this Scripture to your life.
P is for prayer. Write a prayer to God concerning this lesson and your life.
Y is for yield. Write what you must yield in your life for this lesson to become alive in you.
Method 3: Five Finger Prayer
The “Five-Finger Prayer” is a great guide to use when praying for others. This is a simple form of prayer to teach children, but is also a good method for people of all ages. It could be a great method to use as a family; many would likely see a positive impact in their families if they took time to pray together each day.
Each finger represents a group of people to lift in prayer:
• When you fold your hands, the thumb is nearest you. So begin by praying for those closest to you—your loved ones. Pray for God to guide and direct them.
• The index finger is the pointer. Pray for those who try to point us in the right direction—Church leaders/teachers and preachers, those who teach children, our mentors, etc.
• The next finger is the tallest. It reminds you to pray for those in authority over you—national and local leaders, and your supervisor(s) at work. The people shape our lives and world and need God's guidance.
• The fourth finger, or ring finger, is usually the weakest (as a piano teacher can testify). This finger represents those who are weak and in need. Pray for those who are in trouble or who are suffering.
• Then comes your little finger. It reminds you of your smallness in relation to God’s greatness. After you have spent time praying for others, you can spend time praying for yourself. It will remind you to keep your need in perspective and will help you pray for yourself more effectively.
Remember, whatever method of prayer you use, the most important thing is that you are taking steps to become a disciple committed to prayer!
Method 4: Centering Prayer
Many love the Scripture that says, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Yet, how often are any of us "still" before God? Centering prayer is one of the simplest forms of prayer, yet one of the hardest to do because centering prayer is all about being still and embracing silence.
Hear this: Centering Prayer takes practice. It may seem weird at first. You may say "this type of prayer is not for me." But, for many of us, centering prayer is exactly what our spirits need. So, you are encouraged to try it...more than once or twice!
Here's how Centering Prayer works:
Schedule a time when you can be by yourself for about 20 minutes. (Find a way to make the time!). Turn off your phone and all noise around you. Find a quiet place inside or outside. (Don't forget we have a prayer room at church or you are welcome to use the sanctuary whenever the church is open!)
Get in a comfortable position and begin to slow your thoughts. Pick one spiritual word to allow your mind to focus on such as "hope," "peace," "love," or "Jesus."
Do not say the word aloud, but begin to slowly say the word in your mind. Repeat it slowly until you feel you have cleared all other thoughts from your mind.
Anytime you begin to think about something you need to do or when a random thought enters your mind or when you get distracted in any way, keep coming back to that word and repeating it slowly.
The goal is to be in silence, not repeat the word. The word is simply a way to help your mind slow down and focus on the silence. Silencing our minds is much more difficult that most of us realize.
As you practice Centering Prayer, you are placing yourself in the presence of God. Allow your mind and body to feel rest and peace. Avoid the temptation to feel as if you are doing nothing, because what you are doing is very important. Your are allowing yourself to be still before the Lord which is a very holy thing to do!
Continue in the silence as long as you would like, but around 20 minutes is a good starting point.
Continue practicing centering prayer and see if it is a way that helps you feel closer to the Lord.
Method 5: Breath Prayers
In Hebrew the word ruach means both spirit and breath, and the ancient practice of breath prayer is a way to remind us that God is as near to us as our every breath.
Original breath prayers used short phrases or verses from the psalms like “Lord, in you I trust.” (Psalm 25:2) Later, personal petitions began to be used as well, petitions arising out of heart- felt needs or desires like “Shepherd, guide me” or “Healer, make me whole” or “Lord, grant me peace.” Here are steps to follow to create and practice a breath prayer:
Think of a personal way you would like to address God and add an adjective or two of adoration. Examples are "Wonderful and Awesome Creator," "Almighty and Holy God," "Loving and Gracious Father," "Jesus our Emmanuel," or "Holy and Sustaining Spirit." The key is that you need to address God in a way that helps you feel close to Him.
Identify a briefly stated need or prayer that's on your heart right now. Examples are "bring peace to my soul," "heal my grieving heart," "help my child," "give me courage to live for you," "forgive me for my sin," "help me trust you more." Again, the key is that your request needs to be personal to your situation in life right now.
Determine an action you do throughout the day or determine a time schedule to offer your breath prayer. Examples are to pray every time you wash your hands or every time you sit down or every time you send a text...or maybe you want to set an alarm and pray every hour or every two hours. Once again, this is your personal choice.
Now, that you have created your breath prayer, put it into practice. As you breathe in, pray your name for God. As you breathe out, pray your request that's on your heart. For example:
Breathe in and pray "Almighty and Holy God"
Then breathe out and pray "Give me courage to live for you."
(You are encouraged to repeat the prayer 2-3 times each time you say it and focus on your breathing as this can also help relax you.)
You are encouraged to pray the same breath prayer throughout each day this week and in the future, you can adjust your breath prayer as your life situation changes.