Has your prayer life gone a bit stale? Are you struggling to find a way to pray that suits you? Perhaps the hands-together-eyes-closed method fills you with dread?
Prayer is about developing your relationship with God. We are all unique and, as such, will all have a unique relationship with God. Each of us needs to find a method of prayer that suits us. Here are a few things you could try:
- Sing or dance along to your favourite music – allow yourself to enjoy the music and the lyrics. You might be pulled towards using worship music but you don’t have to! I heard a story about a couple of ladies praying while dancing to ABBA! In-between lines, call out your prayers, they don’t have to be complicated, just 1 or 2 words is enough. Maybe just name the people that are on your heart at the moment.
- While you’re walking – getting out into nature is a great way to clear the mind and focus it on God but if you don’t have time to go for a specific “prayer walk”, use anytime you’re walking. How often do you walk along looking at your phone, it’s become quite a hazard! Instead, whether it’s picking up the children from school or walking to the bus stop, look around you, use these few minutes to talk to God.
- Chant – if focusing is particularly difficult for you, pick a phrase that you can repeat, either in your head or out loud, examples include: “Hallelujah”, “Lord have mercy” and “Lord, take me as I am”. You can spend just 1 minute or many minutes repeating a single phrase, allowing it to wash over you. You could use this as your prayer time or as a lead into another form of prayer.
- Pull up a chair – are you struggling to know what to say to God or how to start? Pull up an empty chair and talk to God as if talking to your best friend. Literally chat to him, tell him about your day, about your worries and your desires.
- Paint, colour or craft – being creative is a wonderful way to praise God. Whether you’re ‘gifted’ or not, whether you create something display worthy or not, that’s not the point. You may want to create something with a specific purpose, for example, a prayer shawl . Or being creative may simply be a way of keeping your hands busy so that you find it easier to keep your mind focused on God.
- Use a newspaper – open up the paper, read the headlines (try not to get drawn into the sensationalism). Spend time meditating on each headline, allow your thoughts to move from topic to topic naturally either closer to home or internationally. If you find it helpful to do something active, you could cut out the headlines, or cut of specific words and lay them out, perhaps stick them in a notebook or onto a pin board for use in a later prayer session.
- Surfing the internet – use your preferred search engine, you can literally type in anything you want and use the results to guide your prayer, after all, pretty much everything in the world needs prayer! A couple of ideas: ‘What charities are in my local area?’ or ‘what countries need prayer?’. Use what you find to direct your prayers.
- Sitting in a coffee shop – purchase your favourite beverage and do some people watching. You don’t need to stare or judge people, just allow your thoughts to wonder. You don’t know anyone’s story but everyone has needs, pray that each person you see will feel God’s love in their life. Listen to anything God moves you to do – he may prompt you to speak to a stranger so be prepared! You may be prompted to pray for yourself and that’s ok or the things you see may prompt you to pray for people you know, consider this an open dialogue with God, the coffee shop is simple the backdrop.
- Let your Bible fall open at a random point – close your eyes and point to a verse. Read this verse; it might not mean anything immediately but consider each word carefully and let it guide the direction of your prayers. If you feel a completely random verse isn’t leading you anywhere a good place to start is the Psalms, these are pre-written prayers and there’s a lot of variety And they speak of the difficulties we face today.
- Pick a word – any word, maybe ‘broken’, ‘starlight’ or ‘triggering’, write it down, think about what it means to you – use word association to direct your prayers. As you focus on a new word, write it down. If you find your mind wondering fast onto unassociated things, try using the original word as an acrostic, e.g. if you’re using broken, think of a work beginning with ‘b’ (balancing), then think of a word beginning with ‘r’ (radical), write them down and focus on each word in turn, see if specific people come to mind when you think of each word, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know why, just focus on them as you pray.
None of these are drastically radical, I know, but it’s just a case of trying something a bit different. If you’re struggling to pray or feeling a bit stagnant, sometimes we need a shake up. It doesn’t matter if you stick with one of these activities for a period of time or if you try each one of them once, the idea is that these will help you think outside the box and that you will find a form of prayer that suits you.