Prayer acts like the woof thread which interconnects and binds the individual parts of your life together to create one beautiful tapestry that is uniquely your life. Below are some resources to help you explore the wonder of prayer.
- The Practice of Prayer by Margaret Guenther (Cowley Publications, 1998) is a practical overview of prayer, what it is and how we can practice it in our daily lives.
- Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992) introduces us to how the many expressions of prayer all fit within three movements. It is a good book to read for those who are looking to break out of stale prayer-patterns or who want to expand their understanding of what can be considered prayer.
- The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions (The Banner of Truth Trust, 2017) is a great resource for letting the prayers others have prayed touch our souls and become our own prayers to God.
- Praying the Scriptures: A Field Guide for Your Spiritual Journey by Evan Howard (InterVarsity Press, 1999) guides us in how to pray the scripture as it offers suggested texts categorized by topic.
- Face To Face by Ken Boa (Zondervan, 1997) offers a three month experience of letting scripture be your prayers. I recommend starting with Volume 1, Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship.
Notes on the three formal times of prayer and what we can do between them
- Evening Examination:
See the blog titled "Listen Through Your Life" in the Bible Reading Category for a simple review of this practice called the Examen.
- Start the Day:
See the blog "Hiking Prayer’s Trail" in the Bible Reading Category for ways to start your day praying scripture.
- Mid-Day Prayer:
See the blog "Reading for Formation" in the Bible Reading Category for a way to pray scripture using Lectio Divina. Also consider how a 15 minute walk in nature can help you become more firmly anchored to God (Psalm 19:1-3; Romans 1:20).
Between these formal moments look for ways to weave informal, short and spontaneous moments of prayer into your day. Connecting each type of prayer to a “trigger” that reminds you to pray is helpful. Anything can be a trigger—the phone ringing, another diaper change or the chime on your watch are simple examples.
- Breath Prayer:
A short prayer that can be expressed with one breath. This prayer is often connected to something you want to see changed in your life or a characteristic of God you want to emphasize. “Your grace Lord” is a breath prayer that covers both topics.
- Prayer of Surrender or Indifference:
Expressing that you are indifferent to everything except doing God’s will. Richard Baxter’s prayer is a nice summary here: “What you will. Where you will. When you will.” Expressing our commitment to God’s will changes the way we live.
- Praise and Gratitude:
There is a reason why Paul commanded that we give thanks in all circumstances. Weaving gratitude through every day makes a significant difference in how we face the unexpected trials that come our way.
A Simple Practice
Find a printed copy of the Lord’s Prayer. Schedule 15 minutes and find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Sit quietly and clear your mind; let the Lord know you are eager to come to Him. Thank Him for His love for you and ask Him to teach you how to pray. Slowly pray through the Lord’s Prayer once. Pause for a moment, then go through it again, stopping after each phrase to add your own spontaneous prayers that align with the phrase. Close by writing down any observations. Plan to do this at least three times in the same week and then journal the experience.
Thoughts to Ponder
Which statement best reflects your view of prayer?
- Business appointment
- Fellowship with God
- Participate in His purposes
- Partnership in His ways
“In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after Him: To desire the things He desires, to love the things He loves. Progressively we are taught to see things from His point of view.”
- Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline p. 30
Read Luke 8:11-18.
- How does the parable of the four soils relate to Jesus’ warning to “consider carefully how you listen”?
- In what ways does prayer include listening and how does our approach toward prayer effect the quality of our soil?
- How does your current practice of prayer improve how well you listen to Jesus?
- When it comes to your own life, what kind of soil is God’s seed resting in today?