Sunday Worship - 10AM

Prayer: A Conversation with God

“Lord, teach us to pray,” the disciples request of Jesus (Luke 11:1). Many of us who lack confidence in our prayer lives ask the same of our pastors and others who seem to have a better handle on that spiritual discipline.

As United Methodists, we know the value of works of piety like a prayer. The third of John Wesley’s three rules for the Methodist Church was to continue “attending upon all the ordinances of God.” The list of examples he offered with this rule included “Family and private prayer.”

Learning to pray is like learning to ride a bicycle. What we can learn from a book or class is not enough. Proficiency comes through practice. Additionally, because prayer is a form of communication, there is no one-size-fits-all technique. Each of us needs to find a unique style. Spending a day or season invigorating your prayer life is time well spent. Experiment with some new-to-you ways of praying. You might be surprised to find what works best for you.

Be still

You don’t necessarily need words to pray. In Psalm 46 God tells his people who were busy trying to please him, “That’s enough! Now know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10). Sometimes we need to stop performing for God and simply “be still.” This can be hard at first because it is so unfamiliar. Set a timer for 3-5 minutes, or find some relaxing music or sound effects that will mark the time. Then be quiet and rest in the presence of God. 

Breath Prayer

Breath prayers are another way to become more aware of God's presence. The Holy Spirit is as near as the air we breathe. A common way to practice breath prayer is silently repeating a single-line prayer with each breath. As you inhale address God with something like, “Jesus, Son of God.” Then, as you exhale, express a request to God such as, “be merciful to me, a sinner.” Other examples are, “Creator God, allow me to see your beauty around me,” “Holy Spirit, let me feel your joy,” “O Lord, show me your way,” and “Holy One, heal me.” Repeat the prayer with each breath for several minutes. Listen to God.

Multi-sensory Prayer

Engaging other senses in prayer proves effective for many. Through the centuries, Christians have looked at candles, smelled incense, and held onto beads, crosses, and more as they prayed. A creative way to do something similar is to pray while working a piece of clay in your hands and contemplating your humanity and sinfulness. The clay reminds us that God is constantly shaping us into vessels of the Holy Spirit. As Jeremiah watched a potter shape and reshape clay, he heard the voice of God, “Like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in mine” (Jeremiah 18:6). A labyrinth like this one marked by tealights, invites us to pray as we walk. 

Labyrinth Prayer

A labyrinth is another helpful tool for focusing prayers. A labyrinth is a path marked out in a field, painted in a parking lot, or shown on a carpet that you walk while you pray. While a labyrinth may look like a maze, it is not. It is a single path leading participants into the center, and back out. While entering the labyrinth, prayers are focused on confession. Participants then pause in the center to read scripture, sing, or worship another way. On the way out of the labyrinth prayers for others, self, and anything else that occupies the mind are offered. Since labyrinths are not readily available, a finger labyrinth makes a great substitute. You can pray this three-part prayer while slowly tracing the path with your finger. Print a finger labyrinth and give it a try. Or, if you would rather walk, pray similarly while strolling around your neighborhood or on a nearby hiking trail.

Praying scripture

Another great source of prayer is the Bible. Praying the scriptures has a long tradition among the faithful. Praying while reading the Bible can expand the topics we lift in prayer.  Prayerfully read a passage by stopping every line or so, and praying what comes to mind. This can stretch us to bring before God petitions we might not think of on our own.  Praying the Psalms, for example, calls us to address every emotion. Praying Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) will lead us in prayer for the poor and oppressed. Many scriptures such as Jesus’ healings and parables, Paul’s letters, and others, may deeply speak to our needs, help us to praise, or remind us of a promise of God.

Pray by checking in with God

You may also pray by simply checking in with God at the end of the day. As you might call a friend or family member just to chat about what is going on in your life, you can have the same conversation with God. Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th-century cleric, and theologian, taught what he called the Daily Examen. The Examen asks the believer to share with God that for which you are thankful, moments you recognized God’s presence in the events of the day, your shortcomings, and to ask God to prepare you for the day ahead.

Find your way

As there are many ways to communicate with those closest to us, so too there are numerous ways to pray. This list is not comprehensive, but rather a place to begin exploring prayer methods. Spend some time developing a richer prayer life by finding what works for you. This will allow you to re-energize your conversations with God. 

Credit to:, a feature by Joe Iovino. 2015

Helpful Prayers

Sometimes In Our Lives, For A Variety Of Reasons, We May Struggle To Find The Words To Offer In Prayer. Here Are Some Prayers That May Be Helpful.

A Prayer Of Thanksgiving

O Lord, how unfailing are your blessings. Your mercies are new to me every day, I give thank for the renewing of my health, for the relief of my pain and worry. Continue your healing within me and grant that I, growing in strength and faith, may return in your time to the work you have given me to do for you. Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

A Prayer For The Morning

God, this morning I have come into the quietness and stillness of your presence to begin the day, so that out of this moment I may take with me a quiet serenity which will last me through the rough and tumble of this day’s life. I come to you to find wisdom, so that today I may not make any foolish mistakes. I come to you to find peace, so that nothing may worry or upset me all through the day. I come to you to find love, so that all through the day nothing may make me bitter, unforgiving, or unkind. I come to you to begin the day with you, to continue it with you, and to end it with you so that it will be a day which will have in it nothing to regret. Hear this, my morning prayer for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

A Prayer Before Sleep

O Heavenly Father, you have given to us the gift of sleep as a means of rest and refreshment. Grant that at the end of this day I may so place myself into your gentle arms that this night may be free of care and anxiety. Grant that I may awake tomorrow refreshed and ready to receive the care you will give me. Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

A Morning Prayer Poem

Lord, give me the patience to see this day through, in joy and in sorrow, to seek after you. Teach me to trust in your loving Son, from the time this day starts until the moment it is done. Teach me not to murmur, complain, or strive, because only through you am I truly alive. Sometimes it is not until I wander or stray, that I realize it’s near you I always must stay. So teach me to love you and always be true from the time this day starts until the moment it is through. ‑Gloria Temm

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