Ideas for prayer…
Prayer isn’t just about talking – it’s about listening too… When we meet someone, or have a relationship, it would be odd if we did all the talking.
- That way of ending prayer time by reviewing what went on is one way of listening
- Try simply listening to the sounds around you after you’ve relaxed your body and stilled your mind. Let them be an aid to attentiveness rather than a distraction. Give them your complete attention…How many sounds can you hear? Is there anything you haven’t noticed before…?
- Open a Bible, and find one of the psalms. Choose a short verse, and read it over and over until you can say it by heart. Then let go of everything else, and just keep saying it. Maybe one phrase or word will stay with you. Just keep repeating it for 5 minutes. At the end of that time see what you’re feeling, and what God has maybe said to you through this.
- Open a Bible and find a story about Jesus from one of the gospels. Read it and familiarise yourself with all that is going on in it. Then shut your eyes, and in your mind’s eye be there in that story… Feel the place, see the people, listen to what’s being said… Enter into it. What ‘s your place here? How do you feel? Does anything Jesus says ring bells with you?
- Let a lighted candle, a cross, a picture or an icon be a focus for your attentiveness. Sit and look at it. Let yourself look at it rather than think about it. When you are ready, talk to God about what you see…
- Use some living scenery – a view or a tree on a walk for example, in the same way
- Find a smooth pebble and hold it. Take some time to feel the smoothness, the coldness. Feel its weight in your hand. Look at the colour and the texture. Think of the great forces, the ages of time, that have gone into making your stone. Now it is small and still, and you have it. Hold it as you pray.
- Try the same with some wood, a twig, a fir-cone…
Choose a short prayer or a few words from the Bible. Repeat it in time with your breathing. Just do it with your normal breathing – don’t over breathe. You can use the ‘Jesus Prayer’ like this:
- As you breathe in, saying Jesus Christ
- As you breathe out Son of God
- As you breathe in Have mercy on me
- As you breathe out a sinner.
- Or simply the name ‘Jesus’.
- Sit with your hands palm-up on our lap. In your mind’s eye put into them whatever’s cluttering up your life at the moment – maybe anxiety, impatience, resentment, envy…? Thank of each as a weight there in your hand, or a bundle or whatever works for you. No need for words…
- Then quite deliberately lift your hands up a little and turn them palm-down. Picture the weights falling from your hands into God’s lap. They are feelings that are part of you at the moment, so they’re not to be discounted. Wait until you’re sure that they’ve gone from your hands – that none are sticking.
- Now turn your hands palm-up. Ask God for the positives of those negatives. Maybe trust instead of anxiety, or a sense of humour instead of impatience, gratitude instead of envy? Whatever the appropriate opposite is for you. Picture God placing these into your open hands. Wait quietly for a little, then end with a brief prayer in words.
- If during the day, the anxiety or whatever returns (they have a habit of doing this!), then, wherever you are, simply to repeat the hand movements unobtrusively can help you to get back into the prayer.
All the senses
- God made our world and sustains it. We can get into the habit of seeing God in all things, and being ‘noticing’ people. Try going on a ‘walk of the senses’. You don’t have to be in the countryside for this. Walk slowly down the road or in the park or by the sea or on your way to work).
- Read Psalm 8, or part of Psalm 104 – songs of praise to our Creator. Then walk not simply for exercise, or to get from A to B, but
- Look – notice details, colours, shades, leaves, flowers, brickwork…
- Touch – the texture of walls, metal railings, bark of a tree, the smoothness of grass…
- Listen – to the many different sounds: water, traffic, birds, your feet walking along…
- Smell – try to distinguish smells – pleasant and unpleasant!
- Taste – a blade of grass, a raindrop/dewdrop, salt spray on your lips, an apple on a country walk, a cup of coffee a the end…
- And at the end, simply thank God: Lord, thank you for the senses you have given us. Help us to notice one another and the world that is around us. Help us to be attentive so that we don’t miss you.