I'm going a little different this time around.
10 Ways I Pray
(I feel like I owe you the explanation here that while I am a God-seeker and truly believe it is ALL about the relationship--hence the prayers--I am in no way an expert on these sort of things. But I think getting creative and out of the box with prayer sometimes helps us to see God in a whole new light)
1. prayer journaling.
simply writing my thought and prayers to God. this is such an effective way for me to look back and realize the answers to those prayers and how the prayer changed ME.
2. rosary beads (or you can use any prayer beads).
I know that my friends who are Catholic actually pray the Rosary. Um, I don't know how to do that. I'd really like to know how, and maybe I'll have a chance to be in a service someday soon where I can. However, I use my beads. Each decade (10 beads) is assigned kind of a mantra prayer such as "Lord of peace, give me peace". I pray that phrase for each of the 10 beads and then when I get to the bead at the end of the decade I use that bead to hold and dwell on what exactly I need peace in. It's a spontaneous prayer where I truly pour my heart out to God. If I am simply praying for peace in my life, I continue with that prayer all the way around the beads. If not, I move on to something like "Giver of all joy, bring joy into my heart".
At the end of the rosary there are "extra" beads. They do have a purpose. I use them to pray for those closest to me, for my church, for our nation and the world. And I end on the crucifix by praying the Lord's Prayer--Our Father.
I realize that this was long and quite unorthodox--but it's truly helped me so much in my faith journey. My favorite rosary is one I bought at the Vatican.
Pictured is one that I actually made last year. I carry it in my purse because if it breaks I can always fix it--the one from the Vatican is irreplaceable!
3. scripture prayers.
I really got this idea from doing a Beth Moore Bible study, but have adapted it to my own. Similar to my prayer journaling, I keep a tiny notebook in my purse where I write down scriptures that speak to me/are prayers or have special meaning to them. Periodically when I'm prompted to I'll flip through the book and find a scripture that fits the situation I'm praying about in my own life or that of a friend. I use the words of the scripture to pray over that situation, then on the back on the page where the scripture is I write the date and the situation I prayed over. It's amazing to look back over that notebook and see the many times I've used it, and how these situations have worked out.
4. breath prayers.
Our worship minister, Randy, introduced this idea to us. Simply a phrase to be prayed over and over. Inhale: part one (Lord Jesus), Exhale: part two (be with me now). It's a very calming way to pray if you're stressed or in a situation that is particularly overwhelming. I also use this method of prayer when I'm on my yoga mat.
5. with a friend.
I don't know about you, but I often feel better about a situation if I can talk it out with a friend. Talking it out with a friend AND praying together about it is even better. And I don't even have to have anything wrong for this to be a special and intimate time. Anthony and I try to pray together regularly, just in general. I have other friends who will pray with me often. Such a special bond.
6. crossing myself.
Again, I'm not Orthodox or Catholic (although I do attend Mass quite regularly and even sing in the choir when I'm there!). But when I see an ambulance, an accident, something that I think should be brought to my Father, I simply cross myself. For me, it's saying (with my body) "Father, Son, Holy Spirit, be in this situation right now
7. go to nature.
Something about running water brings me to a point of praise and prayer. Something about sunsets makes me realize the majesty and glory of God. And a walk in the woods clears my mind and sets it on things above.
8. praying other people's prayers.
Aren't there times when you just can't think of the words you want to say? Thankfully, there are prayers written and spoken all throughout the ages that exactly reflect my thoughts and feelings. The Psalms are full of them. I also love the prayers of St. Francis, Thomas Merton, Mother Teresa, and others. (incidentally, the handwritten prayer to the left that you're seeing is claimed to be in Mother Teresa's own handwriting.)
9. lighting a candle.
This is especially seen during Advent in my house, or when I go to Mass and light a candle there. But I often will light a specific (unscented, white) candle in my house to represent a prayer that is close to my heart. Something about the flicker of the flame assures me that the prayer is still being heard by my God.
Music speaks to me like no other. So it's little surprise that I often choose to speak back to God by singing songs of praise or lament. Once in awhile it's a lyric that just stumbles into my mind, one that He gives to me. Most of the time it's an already existing piece though.
I have a good friend, Kathryne, who often states: "I pray--not because it changes God, but because it changes me." And how true that is!