Is personal prayer something for me?
The short answer to this question is yes, whoever you are!
Many religions have the concept of prayer as some sort of communication between the earthly, physical realm, and the other-world realm of God or the gods. A special and radical feature of the Christian concept of prayer is that it is both possible and beneficial for the communication channel with the one loving God to be a two-way dialogue between God and the person praying. We each are developing a personal relationship with God.
There are, of course, many ways to pray, and many systems of prayer; and many books have been written on the subject and about the words of specific prayers;
There is no need to let all this technical stuff get in the way of starting——
start to pray, right now.
The essentials, all that is needed to start a habit of personal prayer, are
- a quiet place, which may be in a chair where you live, or if that is never possible, some place outside like a park bench, or even a quiet moment in an empty church
- a little time, often the difficult part, to actually step aside from the affairs, concerns and problems of your life for even just a few moments
When you have created the moment and the place, there are all sorts of techniques you might use to start; but you can get to all that at a later time, as you develop a habit of praying.
The main point is to turn the focus of your mind inwards, so that when talking to God you are either imagining the words in your mind, or speaking them in a low voice; listening too, is the mental side of how we hear anyway; and prayer is a dialogue, you speaking to God, but also giving time to listen to what God is saying to you.
If you need more hints for how to start, browse down for
- two sections which offer some suggestions,
- and following that, a section of other resources you might look at.
if you need a starter method
Just one suggestion of how to start.
Apart from the first and last sections, only include the other sections if you feel you need to.
Sit quietly and relax, remember that God is with us always, even when we forget him. He wants us to feel the love that he has for us, a love that is ours forever no matter what.
Open your heart to him, recognize your shortcomings and failures.
Say, "Father forgive me."
Tell him about those you love and your concerns for them.
Say, "Lord bless them and keep them."
Remember those who have died and thank God for having know them.
Say, "Lord I commend them to your safe keeping."
Tell him about yourself, your worries, concerns, your happiness
Say, "Thank you for bringing me to this new day; be with me now and always. Amen"
if you need some words
Jesus gave the following model prayer, which is both good words to learn and use often, but also a model of the structure of a prayer session—start by just focusing your mind on God and God's presence; God, who Jesus referrred to as Abba which is Aramaic for Father or Dad; and then come later to your personal concerns.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
[Matthew 6:9-13; NIV 2011]
[find the section on prayer in Matthew,
including the above, at NIV Matthew 6 ]
The following completion is sometimes added;
For yours is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever, Amen.
Other resources you might look at
The Gurardian article about a person who broke into a church to pray at broke into a church
The BRF Festival of Prayer 2017, Saturday 9th September 2017, 10am to 4.30pm, at Festival of Prayer
For a Church of England angle, see C of E on prayer and worship
For 'Prayer a Simple Guide' from the Church of England Oxford Diocese, see Prayer: A Simple Guide
Turvey Abbey, near Olney, is a source of Benedictine materials at TurveyAbbey
For a specifically Jesuit angle, see SacredSpace
There is a local religious community which follows the Benedictine tradition at St Michael's Priory, (formerley known as the Well at Willen), located near Willen Lake in Milton Keynes.