Perhaps it is because folk recognise some absence, some incompleteness in their lives and in their living that they begin to seek for that which they perceive to be missing, even though they may not know what that is!
Jesus Christ knew how important prayer was. He often made time to go away alone in order to pray to his Heavenly Father, gathering strength in this encounter for his work of ministry and mission.
He taught his followers, his disciples, the following prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the time of trial,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen
Because of how important prayer clearly was for Christ, so his followers try also to make a space for prayer in their lives.
You might use the words of the Lord’s Prayer, as it is known, or the words of other prayers. You will find some other prayers on our website and these are prayers which we use from time to time during services and also at individual prayer times.
Just as each person is an individual, so is their need and approach to prayer. What may be helpful to one person may be a turn off and consequently unhelpful to another. The best advice given on prayer seems to be to try out different ways and see what works for you and is helpful for you.
Praying doesn’t need words to be spoken. Prayer can be a wordless turning of the mind and heart towards God, as in meditation or contemplation. Many who pray regularly try also to listen to what God is saying to them, not filling all their prayer time with their own speaking. Prayer is a dialogue, a conversation, even if at times it is hard to believe that your requests are being heard! Our prayers can be answered in quite unexpected ways too – be prepared for surprises!
Often people will find it helpful to have a simple phrase or even a single word to repeat either aloud or silently over and over again. Others in the daily situations that they find themselves in their lives, use arrow prayers – short phrases or sentences directed at God – “God, please help me”; ” Calm my fears, merciful God”; in much the same way as conversation might be.
Praying can take place at any time, day or night and can be when you are kneeling, standing (as in the Early Church tradition), sitting or lying down. Contrary to widespread practice, you don’t have to have your eyes closed to pray – but some people do feel that they concentrate better that way. You don’t have to be in a “holy place” such as a church to pray. In fact many people find that they pray best in the open air and that prayer is often initiated as a response to what they see around them. A beautiful view of mountains may inspire thoughts of thankfulness and a prayer of thanksgiving to the Creator may flow naturally on from this.
Some people like to light a candle or look at a picture or ikon, as a focus – others may listen to music. Whatever creates a space and an inner stillness will help you to become aware of God’s presence within.
May the soft winds freshen your spirit.
May the sunshine brighten your heart.
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you.
And may God enfold in the mantle of love.
As the rain hides the stars,
As the Autumn mist hides the hills,
As the clouds veil the blue of the sky,
so the dark happenings of my lot
hide the shining of thy face from me.
Yet if I may hold thy hand in the darkness
It is enough….
Since I know that though I may stumble in my going,
Thou dost not fall.
Open our eyes to your presence
Open our minds to your grace
Open our lips to your praises.
God be with you in every pass.
Jesus be with you on every hill.
Spirit be with you in every stream, headland, ridge and law,
each sea and land, each moor and meadow,
lying down and rising up, in the trough of the waves or on the crest of the billow.
Each step of the journey you go, go with God.
May the roads rise to meet you,
May the wind be always on your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee O Lord;
and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night;
for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Come Lord Jesus, you too were tired when day was done;
you met your friends at evening time, come Lord Jesus.
Lord God, you have declared that your kingdom is amongst us.
Open our ears to hear it, our hands to serve it, our hearts to hold it.
This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
Goodness is stronger than evil,
Love is stronger than hate,
Light is stronger than darkness.
Truth is stronger than lies.
(Words of Desmond Tutu)
A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
not so much to be understood as to understand,
not so much to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying, that we awake to eternal life.
A prayer of St. Benedict
Gracious and Holy Father,
please give me intellect to understand you,
reason to discern you, diligence to seek you,
wisdom to find you, a spirit to know you, ears to hear you, eyes to see you,
a tongue to proclaim you, a way of life pleasing to you,
patience to wait for you and perseverance to look for you. Amen.