One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:1-4)
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)
Praying should be easy, after all what could be more natural than talking to our heavenly Father? But many of us, at different times in our lives, have found praying difficult. Sometimes we simply don’t know what to pray about or what words to use. Other times we can be so overwhelmed by situations or circumstances that words seem to fail us. At times like these I often use one of three things to help me. Firstly I might use ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, saying it slowly, pausing at the end of each line and thinking about what each of the lines actually says. Secondly I often use hymns, either by simply reading the words out loud or singing them quietly. Thirdly I sometimes use prayers written by other people.
Recently I have been using a set of Celtic Prayers written by David Adam who was Vicar of Holy Island (Lindisfarne), Northumberland from 1990-2003. He writes in the introduction “One of the great joys of prayer is that it puts us in touch with reality. To live without reference to God is to live a lie, for in him we live and move and have our being. Praying gives us a good link with our Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer. It opens our eyes and ears and hearts to the love and strength that God offers us…The joy of prayer is in learning to rejoice in and rest in the presence, the peace and the power of our God.” Each day of the week there are two or three prayers on a theme for you to use and his hope is that as you use them they will inspire your own prayers.
I have several hymn books at home and part of my personal time with God is spent singing songs, hymns or choruses. There are many hymns that are prayers. Many more of us now have a ‘Mission Praise’ in our houses so that we can join in with the singing as we watch the online service. I had a quick flip through my ‘Mission Praise’ at home and would suggest that you might want to use some of the following in your prayers, you can either read them or sing them if you know the tunes.
· Be thou my vision (MP 51)
· Breathe on me, breath of God (MP 67)
· Dear Lord and Father of mankind (MP 111)
· Fill thou my life, O Lord my God (MP 146)
· May the mind of Christ my Saviour (MP 463)
· O for a heart to praise my God (MP 495)
· Take my life and let it be (MP 624)
· Beauty for brokenness (MP 806)
· Great is the darkness (MP 835)
· Holy Spirit, living Breath of God (MP 1183)
There are many more that I could have chosen, choose hymns that you feel will help you in your prayers that day.
And of course, the thing that I am not good at, is remembering to just be quiet, to say nothing and to listen, otherwise how will I hear what God has to say to me?
Prayer (by David Adam)
Light of the world, bless all who are in darkness, shine upon us in love.
Be with the despairing. Support the depressed. Comfort the suicidal.
Give us your hope, give us your joy, give us your peace.
Lighten our darkness today and evermore.
Song: Holy Spirit, living Breath of God (Getty/Townend)