The Practice of Prayer

Over the course of August, as a church community we’re exploring the practice of prayer as part of our apprenticeship to Jesus. Last week we explored the wonderful invitation that prayer is, and how we can perhaps start to reshape how we see prayer: less of a burden and another item on our to do list, but an incredible privilege and pleasure.

 

This last Sunday we explored the idea of seeing our prayer life like a vine, and considered ways in which we can be putting in practices and habits as a sort of ‘trellis’ to support the growth and flourishing and fruitfulness of the vine. Below are some ideas of things you might want to implement in building your own ‘trellis’.

 

Fixed Hours of prayer

For centuries Christians have prayed at several fixed hours throughout the day in order to develop greater awareness of God’s presence with them throughout every aspect of daily life. For you, perhaps this might thinking of one time each day that you have an alarm reminder go off to remind you briefly pray, and celebrate his goodness and kindness. This might be long or short depending on what you feel is practical and helpful.

 

Quiet Time / Devotional

This is a practice of ensuring you have a specific period of time each day devoted to spending time with God. This might include both prayer and bible reading.

 

Praying the Examen

This is a prayer usually at the end of the day, reflecting on the last 24 hours – considering God’s fingerprint in your life, considering where you have or haven’t been aware of Him with you. Then look ahead for the next 24 hours and ask God to lead, guide and shape that time to come.

 

Using a Journal

This won’t be helpful for everyone, but I know for me, praying regularly by writing my prayers down really helps me to focus, to slow down, and be present in my prayer with God.

 

Written/structured prayer

This might include praying through a prayer in the bible like the Lord’s prayer. You might want to pray slowly through each phrase, reflecting on what the Holy Spirit might be emphasising to you.

 

Or, you might want to use a prayer book / devotional book that leads you through certain bible text, reflections, and prayer. (If you’re looking for one, I’d recommend Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Day by Day: A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office).

 

Prayer List

I know my prayer generally can quite easily be focussed in on myself and my story and my dreams and struggles. Something that can really help with this is having a prayer list helping remind me who and what I’d like to remember like to pray for.

 

Prayer Partners

Perhaps you might find it useful to have a small group of close friends with whom you journey in prayer, regularly catching up and sharing prayer points or how you’re going in prayer.

 

Prayer Walks

Many people find that the best way for them to spend time in prayer is walking, and often in nature. If this is you, perhaps don’t just wait until you find yourself in nature, but consider how you can build this into your life with some form of regularity.

 

This is not an exhaustive list, but just some ideas than many followers of Jesus have found helpful over the years in their apprenticeship to Jesus.

 

Discussion/reflection questions:

  • Consider your prayer life and apprenticeship to Jesus. Do you feel like you might benefit from adding some practices that could form the ‘trellis’ to help the vine of prayer grow and flourish?
  • Considering the realities of your life, your responsibilities, and your journey with God, are there any of these specific practices that you want to adopt? What might help you get going with this practice? Is there someone you could speak to to walk alongside you in this journey? Do you need to chat and dream together with your spouse or close friends, in light of how this might affect your time together or at home?
  • Spiritual formation should lead us further into what Eugene Peterson calls the ‘unhurried rhythms of grace’. Are there any things in your life that you feel you need to ‘put down’ either temporarily or permanently, in order to make realistic space for the practice(s) of prayer that you want to ‘pick up’?
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