'Pray as you can, not as you can’t'

Over the last two thousand years, Christians have found many ways to pray. Some people find it helps to focus on one way of praying for a long time so that it becomes deeply embedded in their life, while others thrive on a variety of different styles to keep their conversations with God alive and active. Some people find a deep sense of freedom and connection with others in using a standard pattern of prayer, like a prayer book or order, where others prefer something more 'in the moment'.

The items shared through this page will help you to explore prayer in innovative and fresh ways, perhaps encouraging you to try something different, finding new forms of prayer or building your understanding of concepts and practices which others find helpful.

Some suggestions to get you started will be posted here soon.

By Sheila Maxey and Jenny Mayo

A number of years ago, with the support of the minister and elders of Brentwood URC, two of us started a twice-monthly time of prayer called ‘Sacred Space’. During its long gestation period, certain features which would characterise this prayer time emerged:

prayermeet

  • its length would be clearly defined; 45 minutes
  • it would mostly be silent, with quiet Taizé music for half the time and complete silence for the rest
  • the opening and closing liturgies would be brief, not in traditional language and always the same, apart from the Gospel reading (with perhaps a brief reflection) and the Psalm for the coming Sunday
  • there would be various prayer stations around the church so that we could physically move from thanksgiving to confession, to intercession etc.
  • there would be no refreshments or discussion.

Things progressed from there...

Read more: A different kind of Prayer Meeting

By Elizabeth Gray King

artYears ago I learned from the Schyler Institute of Worship and Arts that there are four active languages in worship – aural (what we hear), visual (what we see), kinaesthetic (how we move) and verbal (the words we use). I like to think of God’s languages this way and enjoy affirming that visual language is one way of God speaking to us. It makes sense when we think of messages we receive from someone’s facial expression or body movement, of learning we receive when we see particular objects or buildings, of emotions we feel when seeing particular colours. To pray with art is to pray with expectation that what we see will give us new insight, a new experience, and a deeper relationship with God.

Read more: Praying with art

By Mark Argent

Silence

For some, silence has connotations of austerity. There was someone I offered pastoral care to, as an Elder, who, since the death of her husband, had lived with great loneliness. She was reluctant to make a silent retreat because, spending a painfully large amount of time alone, she was keen to be with people whenever she was able to go away. A few times I gently floated the idea that the aim of a silent retreat as something that helps someone to draw closer to God could have helped in her loneliness, but the time didn’t seem right for that.

Read more: Silence

By Steve Summers

rhythm‘As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God! I thirst for God, for the living God. I say, “When will I be able to go and appear in God’s presence?”’ Psalm 42: 1&2 (NIV)

‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’ Matthew 11: 28-30 (The Message/Word on the Street)

Prayer matters.

I popped to the Daily Bread Co-operative Ltd., Northampton one day, since we’d run out of the porridge and nuts that I like to eat for breakfast. I hadn’t been there for a while so was pleased to see that they had recently won the ‘UK Growing Cooperative of the Year’.

It’s a place close to my heart and has been formative for me on my Christian faith journey. As an unemployed, ‘not-sure-where-I-was-going’ 18-year old, thanks to a ‘chance’ conversation, I found myself as a volunteer as the wholefood warehouse business opened to the public for the first time (1980). The Co-operative had been set up by a bunch of Christians who had been meeting in a house-group for prayer and bible study and wanted to put their faith into practice, not merely to talk about it.

Read more: Rhythm of prayer in community

By Mark Argent

Guided PrayerOne declaration I rarely hear used in URC circles is ‘Let’s have a week of guided prayer’. We sometimes talk about quiet days and either individual or group retreats, but structured time, set aside for guided prayer don’t figure so prominently in our spiritual conversations.

On an individually-guided retreat, a person tends to go to a retreat centre or special venue, leaving their usual context and situation. Here, they spend much of the time either praying or relaxing, meeting daily with a guide who accompanies them on the journey of the retreat, often by being a sounding-board, offering suggestions for prayer and ways of praying.

Read more: A time of guided prayer
Page 1 of 3