How do I pray?

‘How great is the freedom to which you are called’ St Benedict

1. Use the Lord’s Prayer or Jesus Prayer.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him how they should pray, Jesus gave them a prayer to say:

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,
and forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the Kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen

Pray the Lord’s prayer, slowly and thoughtfully, asking God to help you understand what it means, and adding in your own words to each of the sentences.

Many people also find it helpful to pray what is called the Jesus prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.

Again, we pray it slowly and thoughtfully, thinking on the words, especially when we do not know what to pray for

2. Use some of the prayers that we use in church.
If you find them helpful, learn them by heart, so that you can pray them during the day. You can find some well known prayers here.
You may find it helpful to say morning, evening or night prayer. They are available as the Daily Prayer app

3.  Sing hymns or songs (when you are on your own!). Youtube is a great place to find hymns or songs, often with the words in subtitles, so you can sing along
If you have the gift of tongues, use that gift.

4. Turn the passage from the bible that you have read into prayer. Jot down what you think God is telling you today. Ask Him what he wants to say to you today, or if there is something that He wants you to do.

5. If it helps you, make lists of people or situations. Pray for them. Revise any list regularly, and don’t become a slave to it. A very useful app you can get is PrayerMate.
Use something like our diocesan prayer calendar

6. Use silence. Some people have too much silence already, but many of us are always surrounded by noise. Stop and be still. Remember the saint who used to go into church, sit and be still, and – when asked what he did – replied, ‘I sit and look at Him, and He looks at me’.

7. Light a candle and think of Jesus as the light of the world. Ask him to bring his light into the situations for which you are praying.

8. Place a chair opposite you, and imagine that Jesus is sitting in that chair. Talk with him, as you would to a friend.

9. Practise the Presence of God. Try to see Jesus beside you in every little thing that you do, whether peeling carrots for dinner, having coffee with a friend, travelling on the bus or filling in a tedious form. Talk to him.

10. There will be times when God seems very distant. The saints speak of the dark night of the senses.
This can be due to sin, and sometimes we need to confess something or put a relationship right.
It can be due to sickness or tiredness, and then we need to continue to pray as best we can, in the hope that we will again experience the closeness of God. Sometimes simply reading a Psalm and praying the Lord’s Prayer is all that we can do. Ask people to pray for you. Rest in the fact that others are praying.
It can be God’s gift to us. We are being called to live by faith rather than our senses.

 

Other resources

Learning to pray | The Church of England