by Emma Major and Laura Neale
I don't know about you, but two years of a pandemic has had an impact on my prayer life. At times I've found it harder to find the words to pray, but I've also had time to explore different ways of praying which I don't think I would have tried before.
Why do we pray?
1. To strengthen our relationship with God.
Jesus would frequently leave the crowds and go to a private place to pray (Luke 5:16).
2. To Ask for Guidance.
When choosing the twelve apostles, (Luke 6:12-13) “Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.”
3. To Ask for Forgiveness
eg Lord's Prayer. (Matthew 6:14-15) Jesus says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you”
4. To Ask for Something
(Matthew 9:37-38) Jesus says to the disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more works into his fields.”
Prayer is not a passive thing, it is an instrument of action
- that is something I learned in Zambia when I visited 10 years ago.
How can we pray?
There is no right and wrong about how you pray, it's personal for each of us; but we want to highlight the benefits of praying online.
Social media is full of people asking for help, sharing challenges and celebrating successes. All of those are things which can be lifted to God in prayer. Emma often talks about how a "like" on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram is her way of saying she's praying for a situation, an arrow prayer in digital form.
Then there are prayer partnerships, triplets or groups; joining together to support each other in prayer. This might look like people on zoom praying for Ukraine, or prayers shared on WhatsApp, or prayer requests on social media or even a time of prayer on the phone.
As the YouBelong team we gather to pray on zoom; as well as on WhatsApp. This year we are also encouraging people to pray for each other using the hashtag #YBPray for any prayer requests. A load shared is a load halved and that is not just true when we ask God to be with us, but also when we pray together.
Emma has written two poems about prayer, perhaps they will reassure you that there's no right or wrong with prayer.
On our own or with others
Silently or Loudly
Creatively or in stillness
In songs or without words
In church or in the woods
Arrow prayers or prayers we've always known
From books or off the top of our heads
Walking the labyrinth or on our knees
And… The Lord’s Prayer
Pray however feels easy
Exactly the same way you chat
Just be with God like you would a best friend
Let it all hang out
Sometimes it's comfortable silence
Sometimes it's a massive rant
Whatever you want to tell him
God's glad that's where you're at
When can we pray?
Any time at all, again there's no right or wrong. Many people have a routine of praying Morning and Evening; perhaps you'd like to try that using the simple prayers below.
Thank you for loving me just as I am
Help me be everything you know that I can be
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
Lord, be with me through the night
And keep me 'til the morning light.
All the time
Without prayer we're bumbling in the dark. Literally!!
Without prayer we're trying to run the shop ourselves and that quickly leads to bad decisions, muddled thinking, quick judgements, confusion and spiralling into dark places.
So we wonder…
How do you pray?
Has that changed over the decades?
Has it changed over the last few years?
Do you enjoy praying?
Would you like to try a new way to pray?
And finally, another of Emma's poems this time writing about prayer from God's point of view:
Awake and listen
To my call
Do not fear
I have it all
Your morning, evening
Noon and night
You're always safe
Within my sight
Next time you worry
Take just one step
Pray and believe