Prayer

Updated March 21, 2016

By Canon Ed Swayze

In the Anglican tradition using written prayers is an accepted way to pray. Both the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and the Book of Alternative Services (BAS) have a number of beautiful and meaningful prayers. Look through each book and you will find them. Pay particular attention to the "Occasional Prayers" section.

Jesus gave us the Lord's prayer when the disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. Each line in the prayer asks for something basic. Try praying the Lord's Prayer one line at a time and take a few moments to reflect o    n the line you just prayed.

Yet sometimes reading prayers is not meaningful. Because we have different personalities, different ways of praying are more meaningful than others. For some visual imagery is important, like looking at a stained glass window, a view over the lake or an icon. For others movement is important like dancing or modeling in clay. And for others music or the spoken word is important. Pay attention to what is helpful to you and pray in a way which is most helpful.

Myself I am a visual person and sitting in a church or on a hillside overlooking a lake allows me to see and feel the presence of God.

Yet walking or working outside also has a dimension of prayer. Getting "lost" in what I am doing allows my mind to reflect. One of the most beneficial times of prayer was when I worked in the bush as a regen cruiser (looking for trees 2 inches tall). Walking in the beauty of the bush allowed me to pray.

Music whether classical or religious can also help me to pray. Some who are more musical than myself find playing an instrument is a mystical experience. Poetry speaks to some. Reading scripture and reflecting or meditating on the story or a particular verse is helpful.

Some other pointers to prayer are: knowing scripture verses and stories by memory helps prayer because the Holy Spirit makes us remember them as we pray, which is a way for God to speak to us; and routine helps us to pray. Prayer, like exercise, is something which is most helpful when done regularly. Find a time for prayer in your day which is consistent.

Sometimes prayer is spoken out loud, other times it is thoughts in our heads. We can ask God specifically for something or tell God how we are feeling. We can pray while doing an activity. What we are looking at can help us to pray.

Prayer is a communication with God. Sometimes God speaks to us this way when thoughts enter our heads and feelings enter our hearts. When we seek God, God's voice can be discerned.

See also:

Grace at Meals
Leading Prayers of the People

St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church Home Page