Prayer is fundamental to each of us. It is perhaps the most deep-rooted human enterprise in which we can engage. And yet we can misperceive prayer as being something too complex and far too complicated.
Prayer is a kind of heightened acknowledgement of the presence of God in all of our circumstances, an entering into an intentional and continual conversation. When we engage in prayer, it is from our depths that we speak to the One whose presence we cannot help but encounter if we are still.
You will find in these materials various approaches and words to serve as springboards into this “heightened awareness” and this “intentional and continual conversation” we call prayer.
I. Getting started...
Sometimes we long to have a personal conversation with God. Trusting that the Lord is always present and ready to listen, we can speak to the Lord in our own words. These opening thoughts may be helpful to begin the conversation.
I’d like to be close to you, Lord, but I don’t know where to start.
Lord, help me to know Your love.
There’s turmoil and confusion all around me, Lord. Where are You in all of this?
Lord, I’m being taken to places where I really don’t want to go!
I saw something incredible today, Lord. Was that You trying to catch my eye?
The beauty of the natural world is a delight that You have made available to all of us. Thank You, Lord Jesus!
Lord, I’ve sinned. I’ve made the wrong choice. I’m stuck. What do I do now?
I’m on top of the world today, Lord. Keep me mindful that without You, I can do nothing.
Today I had a great time with my friend. Thank You, Lord!
Steady me, Lord, and guide me through life’s ups and downs.
Is there something I can do to help You today, Lord?
II. Scriptures for occasions...
Comfort – Romans 8:26-28, Isaiah 46:3-4
Courage – Isaiah 41:10, Exodus 14:14
Forgiveness - I John 1:8-9, Psalm 51
Guidance – Psalm 37:4-5, Proverbs 16:3, Psalm 32:8
Illness – James 5:14-15, Matthew 8:8
Rest – Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 23
Salvation – John 3:16, Romans 10:9
Strength – Isaiah 43:1-3, Isaiah 45:2-6
III. Requests for prayer...
The Guild of Intercessors
James 5:16 says "...pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (NIV)
The Guild consists of more than 70 men and women who are dedicated to daily prayer for anyone who needs God's intervention. Members of the group pray privately in their own homes. In addition to sending prayer requests via email, individuals may also submit requests to the Guild by completing the Prayer Request cards that are available in the pew racks of the sanctuary, in the literature rack of the Chapel, and in the Fellowship Pads in the Bernsen Center. The requests are compiled and sent to members each week. Urgent requests are relayed to Guild members via a telephone chain. Information included in prayer requests is treated confidentially. Please email your prayer request to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IV. Classic Prayers...
Classic prayers express spiritual themes relevant to people of every time and place. Many of these prayers provide a window into the spirituality of recognized persons who have made contributions through their faith and life; others are by unknown authors. They are often beautifully composed and enhance our prayer life when we make them our own.
As the wind is our symbol, so forward our goings.
As the dove, so launch us heavenwards.
As water, so purify our spirits.
As a cloud, so abate our temptations
As dew, so revive our languor.
As fire, so purge out our dross.
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Give me, O my Lord,
that purity of conscience
which alone can receive your inspirations.
My ears are dull,
so that I cannot hear your voice.
My eyes are dim,
so that I cannot see the signs of your presence.
You alone can quicken my hearing
and purge my sight,
and cleanse and renew my heart.
Teach me to sit at your feet and to hear your word.
John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Thanks be to you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits which you have won for us,
for all the pains and insults which you have borne for us.
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.
Richard of Chichester (1197-1253)
Lord, open unto me
Open unto me – light for my darkness.
Open unto me – courage for my fear.
Open unto me – hope for my despair.
Open unto me – peace for my turmoil.
Open unto me – joy for my sorrow.
Open unto me strength for my weakness.
Open unto me – wisdom for my confusion
Open unto me - forgiveness for my sins.
Open unto me – love for my hates.
Open unto me – thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
Howard Thurman (1900-1981)
Great and good God,
give us pure hearts that we may see you,
humble hearts that we may hear you,
hearts of love that we may serve you,
hearts of faith that we may live in you,
reverent hearts that we may worship you,
here and in the world out there,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dag Hammarskjold (1905-1961)
O God, full of compassion,
I commit and commend myself to you,
in whom I am, and live, and know.
Be the goal of my pilgrimage, and my rest by the way.
Let my soul take refuge
from the crowding turmoil of worldly thought
beneath the shadow of your wings.
Let my heart, this sea of restless waves,
find peace in you, O God.
Augustine of Hippo (354-430)
V. Breath Prayers...
In these prayers we seek to replace our waking thoughts with a single focus, putting all agendas aside as we turn our hearts toward the Holy Spirit within us, given to us by grace in our baptism. We can say the words of these short prayers in a single breath, repeating them again and again as we pray, or we can simply repeat our most familiar name for God. You may also find a prayer phrase in the words of a favorite Psalm, scripture or hymn.
Spirit of God, descend upon my heart.
Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Thank You, dear Lord, for this good day.
Precious Lord, take my hand.
Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty.
Prince of Peace, fill my soul.
VI. Prayers for children and families...
As parents we want the best for our children’s spiritual lives and may wonder how to pray for them and with them; here are some suggestions and resources to get started:
Prayers For Children
Pray that your children’s lives will bear the fruit of the Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Pray that your children will trust in the Lord for direction in their lives: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Pray that your children will fear the Lord and serve Him: “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him…” (Deuteronomy 6:13)
Prayers for children to pray:
VII. Scriptures about prayer...
Matt. 6:5 Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and praying in the synagogues and at the street corners so that they may be seen by others.
Matt. 6:7 When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they ill be heard because of their many words.
James 4:3 You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.
Luke 11:1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Matt. 6:9, Luke 11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name…”
Matt. 6:6 Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Romans 12:12 Persevere in prayer
I Thes. 5:17 Pray without ceasing
Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication…keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. (Unjust judge and the importunate widow)
Phil. 4:6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.
Matt. 21:22 Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
James 5:16 The prayer of faith will save the sick…Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain…
II Chron. 7:14 If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 62:1 For God alone my soul waits in silence…
Isaiah 41:1 Listen to me in silence…
VIII. Links to prayer resources...
Http://www.pcusa.org/devotions - devotional resources
http://www.pcusa.org/cgi-bin/lectiond.cgi - Daily lectionary readings for prayer
www.youthandfamilyinstitute.org/resources/faithlifeinhome_suggestion.asp - guides for praying as a family
http://www.upperroom.org/prayer_center - prayer requests
www.centeringprayer.com/methodcp.htm - contemplative prayer