How Shall We Pray?
As we approach the Season of Lent we might ponder prayer. The Apostle Paul exhorts us to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). How shall we pray? How shall we be enjoyed by God? How shall we enjoy God’s presence? Many of you have read many books on prayer and this short letter will teach you little or nothing. But please allow it to remind you of what you know and allow it to serve as a call to deeper prayer.
While studying a business degree in Information Systems I developed a marvelous relationship with the University’s Presbyterian Campus pastor, David Robinson (author of The Busy Family's Guide to Spirituality: Practical Lessons for Modern Living From the Monastic Tradition, The Family Cloister: Benedictine Wisdom for the Home, and most recently, Ancient Paths: Discover Christian Formation the Benedictine Way. David and I had great conversations about faith and living faith. What follows comes from my notes of our conversation on prayer.
What is prayer? It is communion with God. It is more than a conversation, more than “talking to God.” It is primarily being together with God, being in God’s presence. While it can take place verbally, by talking and listening, it is also a heart connection. Prayer is heart to heart, soul to soul, spirit to spirit togetherness with our Creator. Prayer is a duty, a discipline and a delight.
How can we pray? David shared that he prayed daily a different way for each of his fingers. 1) He prayed 5 psalms, every 30th according to the day of the month. 2) He would pray a breath or heart prayer repeating a simple prayer over and over inwardly, lightly on the lips, in rhythm with his breathing: Lord Jesus, have Mercy or Abide in my love or Bless the Lord my soul. 3) He would pray in the Spirit not using words but images or babbling sounds. 4) Utilize the Lord’s Prayer as a guide or outline for prayer including Adoration, Praying the names of God, submission, petition, thanksgiving, confession/forgiveness, protection, and praise. 5) He would also pray through singing hymns, praise songs, Taize chants, and memory verses. Honestly, I am not sure if David has kept up this regime of prayer. Its discipline is daunting. Don’t worry there are so many different ways to pray akin to the many different ways we communicate love to our family – a smile, a word, a hug, a note, a gift, a kind query, a wink, and a prayer.
Some other ways to pray: pray as you read the newspaper article by article that God’s will be done. Pray while walking or exercising. If you have children at home, lay your hands upon them each night as you pray with them before sleeping. Following every phone conversation, email, or personal encounter offer a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing for the person you communicated with. And of course, there are the marvelous corporate times for prayer within our weekly Lord’s Day worship.
Friends, on our journeys of faith our prayer lives will ebb and flow with fruitfulness and fallowness. Let us enjoy the journey together, encouraging each other in our relationships with each other and in our relationships with our beloved God. In Christ, Scott