Different ways to pray
Don't worry about it - just pray!
New Christians often struggle to pray. Just remember that prayer is simply two people talking to one another—and almost any method will do. However you reach out to God, he loves to hear you and will honour your praying. In fact, French author Georges Bernanos said, “The wish to pray is a prayer in itself.”
Some methods suit certain people more than others, although most Christians use a mix of these and many others:
You could set aside a prayer time each day, combining it with your Bible reading. Or pray on and off throughout the day—combining longer prayers with short ‘arrow’ prayers fired off to heaven. Some people simply try to keep the ‘frequency’ open to God all day long.
Whether you’re praying alone or in a group, prayer can be either silent or out loud. Some people have one or more prayer partners with whom they meet regularly to pray. If you can’t get together in person, you could even pray over the phone, or by MSN, or with other people on the internet!
Usually, prayer is like a conversation—you kind of put it together as you go along. But it can be helpful to read an eloquently written prayer, either from a book of prayers or from the Bible. The Psalms (OT) contain some wonderful prayers, and there is a lovely blessing in Numbers (also OT). And, of course, there is the Lord’s Prayer (NT).
A song can be a prayer, too. Christian songwriter Mark Schultz wrote the song He’s My Son for a boy with leukaemia, and it has since been the prayer of many a parent. The hit anthem You’ve Got the Love, by Candi Staton, is also a prayer.
Some people have the amazing spiritual gift of praying in ‘tongues’—prayer languages which resemble no language on earth, and which cannot be translated except by someone with the spiritual gift of interpretation. What is on your heart gets expressed in ‘tongues’ even if you don’t understand the words you’re using.
When a friend of mine had a serious illness, I felt so helpless that I wrote out my prayer for her and kept it in my purse at all times. I felt that I really needed to ‘hand over’ that prayer to God, so wrapping it up in brown paper and string, and keeping it with me for years without opening it, was symbolic to me of perseverance and of a handing-over to God.
You can pray from a place of joy, grief or even anger. Sometimes it’s OK to yell at God: he already knows what’s on your heart, so he’ll probably appreciate your honesty.
But you should always find time to simply ‘be still, and know that I am God’. Always include a time of silence, and give him room to talk to you, too (one-sided conversations aren’t much fun!). Meditating with a candle, or using another way to focus, can help.
But most of all, don’t tie yourself in knots about how: just do it. Relax. Pray as you can, not as you can’t. Talk to your Father in heaven.
Pray: Lord God, please accept my prayers just as they are, in the same way that you accept me just as I am. Amen.
Use a really easy and accessible daily prayer programme
See what the Church of England suggests
Listen to the prayer-song He’s My Son
Watch the music video You Got The Love
See what Rejesus suggests about praying
See 31 ways to pray for your children: one for each day of the month
Read the book The Power of Simple Prayer: How to Talk with God About Everything by Joyce Meyer
Read the book Learning the Language of Prayer by Joyce Huggett
Read the book 50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times by Teresa A Blythe
Read the book God, I Have Issues: 50 Ways to Pray, No Matter How You Feel by Mark E Thibodeaux
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