The United Benefice of
St Mary's, Henlow, and St Andrew's, Langford

A Few Suggestions to Help You Pray

Prayer is like breathing: without it, we die.
This is part four in a series of articles on prayer written by the Revd Sue Groom. New articles will normally be added about half-way through each month. To be notified when updates are posted, please contact our webmaster, Phil Groom, via his blog, facebook or twitter.

4: A Few Suggestions to Help You Pray

  • Think about who you are addressing: God, our Father and creator; Jesus, our Lord and Saviour; the Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide.

  • Be as natural as you can. Use your own words. Find your own way, don't be scared of experimenting. Above all, don't give up! God longs to communicate with you, but as in any relationship the communication needs to be 2-way!

  • Try silence, or play some instrumental music, something repetitive like Taizé or Gregorian Chants, or inspiring Cathedral anthems or hymns, or your favourite pop music. Discover what helps you to pray.

  • Make a note of prayers, psalms, poems, hymns and quotes that speak to you and for you. Look at the prayers in the Bible. Use books of prayers.

  • Try using as a framework for your prayer time Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer in Common Worship: Daily Prayer or in another service book like Celebrating Common Prayer.

  • Read one of stories in the gospels or the Old Testament and imagine being one of the characters. What does that teach you about God and his relationship with people? Tell him.

  • Go for a walk, let God's creation lead you into praise of the creator.

  • Candle Light a candle, a scented candle maybe, or burn some incense to create a peaceful and awesome atmosphere.

  • Look at a picture like Rembrandt's Return of the Prodigal Son, or an icon like Rublev's Icon of the Trinity, and reflect on the God they represent. Speak to him about what you see.

  • Use a repetitive prayer like The Jesus Prayer (see below) to cut out all distractions. Learn prayers off by heart for difficult times when you cannot pray in your own words.

  • Meditate on the cross, statues or different objects as you hold them. I have a lovely wooden carving of a mother holding a small child which helps me to think about Mary and the young Jesus, and then to pray for the parents and children I know.

  • Learn to use all your senses in prayer — look, listen, inhale, touch, 'taste and see that the Lord is good.'

  • Find a friend with more experience of prayer than you and ask them for advice — sometimes such a person is called a soul friend or spiritual director.

  • Learning the Language of PrayerThere is one book I would highly recommend: Learning the Language of Prayer by Joyce Huggett, originally published by the Bible Reading Fellowship, 1996, costing £6.99. Sadly that edition is out of print but it has been reprinted since by Kevin Mayhew, ISBN 9781844173006, price £7.99. Another very good book is Help on the Way: A Guide to Personal Prayer by Josephine Bax, published by Lynx, 1997, costing £9.99.
The Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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