When looking for a guide or some sort of way to pray, a good method is to simply use Bible verses as a starting point and adding into them to better fit what is on your heart at the time. They are often good examples for our own prayer life. Take Psalm 103 verses 8 through 12, these verses are good foundations for this practice. You can use this as your prayer for the day or find a verse that may suit your current situation better.
Lord you are compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. You are all powerful, You give me the air that I breathe, and the water I drink. You give me the Ground that I stand on and the roof that shelters me. Let me be mindful that your mercy is infinitely more than your anger, and you will not treat me as my sins deserve or repay me according to my sinful nature though I am attacked daily by the temptations that seek satisfaction in me committing sin, and constantly fall into the trappings of my own desires (here is where you would take a moment to confess of the sins that you struggle with), please remove me of my sin and separate me from them as far as the east is from the west. Lord use me as your servant to further your Kingdom so that others may know of your love that spans as high as the heavens are from the earth. Amen
While not always the perfect method for any situation, this way of finding a framework in scripture can alleviate the challenge of creating a prayer. Hopefully you can use this method to get a foothold as to what you want to say in your time with God.
The following prayer guide is from Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism and can be found at gravitycenter.com:
Breath prayer is an ancient Christian prayer practice dating back to at least the sixth century. Historically, it is associated with the Eastern Church, particularly Greek and Russian Orthodox churches.
Known as the “Jesus Prayer” or “Prayer of the Heart,” early practitioners would repeat to the rhythm of their breath the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” In time, the prayer was shortened to, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy” or simply, “Jesus, mercy.”
Breath prayer is a good example of “praying without ceasing” as St. Paul admonished us to do, and has the potential to become as natural as breathing. It is intended to be a very short prayer of praise or petition, just six to eight syllables. The words of the prayer can be easily adjusted to your heart’s desire.
Praise is expressed by calling on one of the Divine names such as God, Jesus, Lord, Father/Mother, Christ, or Spirit. Or you may prefer another name of adoration. Your request or intention is comprised by the words following.
The breath prayer is usually said silently within. But some people sing it; others chant it. It’s your prayer; use it your way.
You may also use the breath prayer for a focused time during a daily spiritual practice. Simply repeat the prayer over and over keeping your attention on the prayer. If your attention wanders, gently return to the prayer.
Begin with 5 minutes and gradually increase the time to 15 or 20 minutes as you become disciplined with the prayer. You may want to use a timer to free yourself from watching the clock. Some find it useful to write in a journal of their experience with the prayer.
- Close your eyes and recall the line “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Be still, calm, peaceful, open to the presence of God.
- With your eyes closed, imagine that God is calling you by name. Imagine that God is actually asking, “(Your name) what do you want? Like the blind man on the road to Jericho, Jesus kindly looks you in the eyes and asks, “What do you want from me?”
- Give God a simple and direct answer that comes honestly from your heart. Write down the answer. If you have more than one answer, write them down. Your answer may be one word such as peace or love or help. It may be several words or a phrase such as “feel your presence” or “lead me into life.” Whatever your answers, they are the foundation of your breath prayer.
- Select the name that you are most comfortable using to speak with God. Combine it with your written answer to the question God asked you. This is your prayer.
- Breathe in the first phrase/word (generally your invocation of God’s name) and breathe out the second phrase/word (request or need).
You may need to compose several prayers before you find one which truly arises from your needs. So look carefully at your prayer. Does it reflect the heart of your needs?
There’s no limit really to developing your breath prayer. It may be the same from day to day or it may change.
Sometimes you may want to reverse the practice a bit by sitting in silence and letting the Spirit pray through you. Ask for God to reveal your name, and God’s desire for you. This can be a profound experience. You may wind up hearing something like, “Beloved, you are enough,” or “Mighty One, rest.” Wait on God and see how you may be renewed.
Sample Breath Prayers
- Jesus, let me feel your love.
- O Lord Show me your way.
- Holy one, heal me.
- Jesus Alleluia, have mercy.
- Holy Wisdom, Guide me.
- Father/Mother (Abba/Amma), let me feel your presence.
The following template and commentary comes from Pastor Alan Clark from Gateway Community Church in Franklin, TN:
The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 is a pattern for prayer and is not intended to be prayed the same way every time. It is a simple pattern that we can pray every day and we do not have to say the exact words each time. Jesus pulled together the 18 prayers of His day and put them into a simple template. Here is the pattern:
- Celebration: Our Father!!! Who art in heaven
- Separation: Holy is Your name
- Invitation: Your Kingdom come Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
- Requests: Give us this day our daily bread
- Covenant: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
- Confession: Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
This is the template and we can work our own words into this pattern. Here is how I prayed the Lord’s Prayer this morning:
“Father You are amazing. I don’t understand how you can be as close as a Father but ride on the clouds. I just accept that you are loving, just, righteous, and most of all Holy. You are not just the God of earth, or air, or water, or thunder, or the present. You are God of all. I believe the Day of the Lord is coming and this world will be set straight. Please provide for my needs today and help me not to worry about tomorrow. Help me to treat others in this world as I want to be treated in heaven. “
That is very simple but it is also very effective. I often stop when I am praying for my needs today and pray for our children, our staff, families, and the church. I would love to hear your interpretation of this beautiful pattern of prayer. If you have the opportunity this week please write out your prayer using this pattern in the response to this blog.
If you’re here, you surely believe that prayer is important. But although practically all Christians agree on this, many of us simply don’t know how to go about praying. Today’s guide may just be a review for some, but hopefully it will help anyone struggling to begin a new prayer life.
An excellent place to start is the ACTS method of praying. ACTS is an acronym for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. The idea is to begin your prayers giving praise and honor to God and setting a tone of reverence for who He is. Transition into admitting your own shortcomings and how you have fallen short of God’s glory. Next verbalize what you’re grateful for in your life/situation and in the world around you. To close, pray for the needs of yourselves and others. Below is a prayer from the United Methodist Book of Worship on the start of a new school year that loosely follows this method. This particular prayer doesn’t have a confession portion, but the subject is relevant and you can undoubtedly add a line yourself confessing your own failures from previous semesters. Yes, the semester is well underway, but this is actually only the second full week of school and it’s a great time to pray for what is to come.
“At the beginning of a new school year, O God of wisdom, we offer thanks and praise for the gift of new beginnings and for the opportunity to learn and to wonder. We pray for teachers, students, and staff that this year might be rewarding for all. Be with us as we face the challenge of new tasks, the fear of failure, the expectations of parents, friends, and self. In our learning and our teaching, may we grow in service to others and in love for your world, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.”
As you pray throughout the week, consider this method as a go-to template when you need someplace to start. Have a great day and in all things glorify God!
THIS IS a TEST