it doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could bev
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
(from Mary Oliver’s book of poems, Thirst)
WHAT IS PRAYER?
A very important question that is not always easy to answer …. “It depends on who you ask,” as some might say. Prayer is, at its core, a conversation between a group or an individual and the Divine. Prayer is not unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition but exists, in some form, in nearly every culture on the planet. Our desire to communicate with God is nearly universal, to speak with God about our challenges and joys and to listen as the Divine speaks back. Many believe it is not only possible but essential to have a relationship with God built on prayer, an echo of our yearning for God’s love and possibility that is offered to us by the Divine Light. Prayer may come from a Prayer Book, a poem, or be an outpouring of our own heart’s imagination. We hope that you will find our link on prayer useful and, perhaps, discover a little bit more of what prayer might be for you on this earthly journey with God.
Rev. George Roberts
WHAT MIGHT PRAYER BE TO YOU?
We asked a few folks that question; see their thoughts below..
Wow. That is quite a powerful question. I guess I would have to say that prayer for me begins with the acknowledgement that God is always with me. “I am in God as the fish are in the sea.” Therefore, prayer is lifting my thoughts, both consciously and unconsciously, to this Presence
Prayer is a time for me to be still, to reflect, and to connect with God. It provides me with a space to be authentic and vulnerable. It is also a time for me to connect with my children, as we recite the Lord’s Prayer together before bedtime.
I start each day with three prayers while I walk the dog: The Prayer of Jabez which specifically askes God to bless my family, expand our territory, and protect us from evil - so it is completely a "request" prayer, then I pray the Lord's Prayer, and then I have a conversation with God thanking him, giving him glory and then ask for healing and protection or giving thanks for specific people/events. Throughout all of these, praying allows me to focus on the presence of God in my life and the wonderful forgiveness that Jesus brought to us all. At the end of the walk I am full of thankfulness and hope with a renewed sense of the presence of Jesus in my life. At that point, I am ready to take on the world!! :)
Prayer is my way of having a conversation with God.
I find prayer problematic. When I pray, I deliberately try to communicate with the Divine. This can be verbal and formal when I’m using words found in a text (e.g. BCP, Bible) or signing a hymn or nonverbal such as following a ritual practice, using the sign of the cross, or attending a house of worship designed for prayer. It can be in dance and other arts. It can be an informal conversation. While I understand the BCP and Bible are tools to help us get in the right mind set, I do not see a line between prayer and conversation.
I have trouble with the conviction that it is possible to address the Divine AND that the Divine can and will respond. I do not have trouble believing and thinking that I can address the Divine. No one and nothing can stop me. I have trouble with expecting the Divine to respond. Since the beginning of human beings, billions of human beings have communicated with the spirit world. I wonder how many asked for something and got it. The Divine’s batting average is probably pretty low. It is presumptive to believe that the Divine can be influenced. I also do not believe the Divine is fickle and selective, that is, some prayers are answered and some are not. I also don’t believe in the concept of the “chosen people” but that is a discussion for another time.
I have been deeply influenced by the Roman Catholic tradition, even though I have been a practicing Episcopalian longer than a practicing Roman Catholic. I grew up understanding (or so educated) that prayer was the way to experience something Divine. Prayer involves contemplation and meditation. Meditation is the physical part of getting the body and mind engaged to enable contemplation. Contemplation is to experience something Divine. I know I have prayed when I experience something Divine. I do not expect that something to be something for which I have asked.
Prayer is a way of communicating with God, through a conversation, that connects me with Him. It’s a time that allows me to remove myself from the daily noise and quiets my mind to invite Him and His power down to earth into my life. Also , listening to that “ small voice” that directs my life according to His will. Prayer allows me to give thanks for ALL He has provided for me and to also ask for intercession for others. In short , for me , Prayer is a continuous growing relationship with God.
Prayer for me is a way to communicate with God on many levels:
To thank him for the many blessings in my life which are innumerable.
To seek comfort and healing for a specific, special someone in need of his grace.
To ask for his all-encompassing guidance, healing and comfort to ALL those in the world in need of his grace.
To ask him to forgive my many sins and to help me be a better Christian.
To ask him to be with someone (or me) as they go through a very difficult time or situation.
To let him know that I love him and so glad that he's part of my life.
Prayer brings me peace and confidence.
PRAYERS FOR YOU TO USE IF YOU WISH
Morning Prayers - New Zealand Prayer Book
Father, we thank you for bringing us to the beginning of another day. Help us through your Holy Spirit, so that we may not fall into sin, but may do everything that pleases you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
(with young children) Loving God, thank you for this new day. Thank you for your love and care for each us. Thank you for making each of us special. Help us today to be kind to each other. Amen .
In darkness and in light, in trouble and in joy, help me (us), heavenly father, to trust your love, to serve your purpose, and to praise your name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for God's Light - New Zealand Prayer Book
Eternal God, shed your light on us who watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our hearts bless you, and our lives glorify you, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
A Collect - New Zealand Prayer Book
Christ be within us to keep us, beside us to guard, before us to lead, behind us to protect, beneath us to support, above us to bless. Amen.
Evening Prayers - Book of Common Prayer
Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.
Prayer For Our Community
Loving God, you fill all things with a fullness and hope that we can never comprehend. Thank you for leading us into a time where more of reality is being unveiled for us all to see. We pray that you will take away our natural temptation for cynicism, denial, fear and despair. Help us have the courage to awaken to greater truth, greater humility, and greater care for one another. May we place our hope in what matters and what lasts, trusting in your eternal presence and love. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our suffering world. ( Please add your own intentions ) . . . Knowing, good God, you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God. Amen.
A Sabbath Prayer - Rabbi Jack Riemer
We cannot merely pray to you, O God, to end war;
For we know that You have made the world in a way that people must find their own path to peace within themselves and with their neighbors.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation;
For You have already given us the resources with which to feed the entire world,
if we would only use them wisely.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice;
For You have already given us eyes with which to see the good in all people, if we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair;
For You have already given us the power to clear away slums and to give hope,
if we would only use our power justly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease;
For You have already given us great minds with which to search out cures and healing,
if we would only use them constructively.
Therefore we pray to You instead, O God, for strength, determination and willpower,
To do instead of just pray,
To become instead of merely to wish.
Bodhisattva Prayer for Humanity - Shantideva, Indian Buddhist sage
May I be a guard for those who need protection
A guide for those on the path
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood
May I be a lamp in the darkness
A resting place for the weary
A healing medicine for all who are sick
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings
May I bring sustenance and awakening
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow
And all are awakened.
Open Unto Me - Howard Thurman
Open unto me, light for my darkness
Open unto me, courage for my fear
Open unto me, hope for my despair
Open unto me, peace for my turmoil
Open unto me, joy for my sorrow
Open unto me, strength for my weakness
Open unto me, wisdom for my confusion
Open unto me, forgiveness for my sins
Open unto me, tenderness for my toughness
Open unto me, love for my hates
Open unto me, Thy Self for myself
Lord, Lord, open unto me!
Prayer for Youth - Holy Spirit Catholic Parish Duncanville, TX
We offer to you, Loving God, the gifts and needs of youth.
Bless them with your guiding grace as they face the challenges and opportunities in their lives.
Touch their hearts with the gentleness of your love, that they may know they are valued and valuable beings.
Send your spirit of hope to their lives,
that they may believe in themselves and know they are needed in this world.
Grace them with the gift of joy that they may celebrate life through laughter and tears alike.
Guide us, as we continue to grow in appreciation of the many gifts of young people, in the ministry opportunities we offer to them, in the journey of faith we walk with them,
in our shared mission as a community called to discipleship in the world.
We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
For People Facing Great Uncertainty - New Zealand Prayer Book
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to your people
as we wait in uncertainty.
Bring hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.
A Prayer- John Birch faithandworship.com
Lord God, for the silent prayers deep in our hearts that have no words, but are simply images held out to you of those we love & those we miss; the suffering, the sick, the lonely, and the lost. Hear our prayers, the offerings of our hearts, and bless the ones we lay before you now. Amen.
A Prayer for Times of Anxiety - Erin Roush
I pause (breathe in and out) and thank you for this day.
For the challenges, the emotions, the struggle. For in all this, I grow closer to you.
I pause (breathe in and out) and ask that in the darkness, I see your light and, in my fear, I feel your strength.
I pause (breathe in and out) and remember that today, as in days before, I have survived.
When I’ve wanted to run, I’ve stayed. When I wanted to hide, I’ve faced the day.
I pause (breathe in and out) and ask for forgiveness for the days I falter and the fear takes over.
I ask for compassion and love when I’m unable to give those to myself.
I pause (breathe in and out) and resolve to love myself more tomorrow.
And always to feel your spirit surround me in safety.
I pause (breathe in and out) and rest.
A prayer for Quiet Confidence - Book of Common Prayer
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Give me strength to live another day;
Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;
Let me not lose faith in other people;
Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;
Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;
Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly
that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;
Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;
Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;
Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;
and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;
in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen
Prayer - Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark
be with us in our isolation,
be close to us in our distancing,
be healing in our sickness,
be joy in our sadness,
be light in our darkness,
be wisdom in our confusion,
be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar,
that when the doors reopen
we may with the zeal of Pentecost
inhabit our communities
and speak of your goodness
to an emerging world.
For Jesus’ sake.
Your Peace - Andrew Nunn, Dean of Southwark
God, who is more than we can ever comprehend,
help us to seek you,
and you alone.
Help us to stand before all that we could do
and seek what you would do,
and do that.
Lift from us our need to achieve all that we can be
surrender to what you can be in us.
Give us ways to refrain from the busyness
that will put us on edge and off center,
give us today your peace.
A Prayer for Healing- Fr. Larry Hess
Heavenly Father, I call on you now in a special way. It is through your power that I was created.
Every breath I take, every morning I wake, and every moment of every hour, I live under your power.
Father, I ask you now to touch me with that same power.
For if you created me from nothing, you can certainly re-create me.
Fill me with the healing power of your Spirit.
Cast out anything that should not be in me.
Mend what is broken – (add your own intentions).
Let the warmth of your healing love pass through my body.
Restore me to health in mind and body so that I may serve you always. Amen
Anima Christi (attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola)
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesu, defend me.
Within thy wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be kept away from thee.
From the malicious enemy, defend me.
And at the hour of my death, call me
And bid me come to thee,
That with thy saints I may praise thee
Forever and ever. Amen.