Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Spiritual Practice of Prayer

Here are some suggestions for prayer postures and ways to pray that you might want to try out this week (or in future weeks. . .)

Types of Prayer:

ACTS Prayer:
Adoration (Give glory to God)
Confession (Say sorry for sins)
Thanksgiving (Give thanks for blessings)
Supplication (Pray for yourself and others’ needs)

Focus on an object, picture, word from scripture, or phrase (such as “Glory be to God”)
Be silent and still and ask God to speak to you.
Relax your body, mind, and spirit.

Giving thanks to God before a meal.

Daily Prayers said at specific times of day
Examples can be found in The United Methodist Hymnal, pages 876-879

The book of Psalms in the Bible was originally a prayer book for the Jewish people.

Prayer for and in behalf of other people.
Consider praying for people you know, people at school or work, people in your church, and people who have important responsibilities in society.

Prayers to bring God’s blessing to people, places, or things.
Blessings usually include an action that accompanies them (laying hands on a sick person, for example, or placing oil on a person’s forehead in the sign of the cross).

Free Prayer:
Just offering your thoughts and feelings to God without any special formula can be a type of prayer!

Prayer Postures:

An ancient posture for Christian prayer.
Usually done standing, with face turned upward or out toward a congregation/group of people.
Hands outstretched and palms facing:
Upward, for prayers of confession or supplication
Downward, for prayers of blessing (such as at communion)
Outward, for benedictions and thanksgiving prayers.

As it suggests, this position is done while down on your knees.
Hands may be folded, at your side, stretched out in front of you, etc.
Good for private prayers, prayers of confession, and prayers before the cross.

Back straight (for good posture, and helps breathing)
Feet flat on the floor
Hands may be folded or laid in your lap, palms up or down.

Flat on the floor, face down.
Used in the early Church for prayers of confession.
Used in some Christian tradition for ordaining ministers/priests.
A good way to connect with the earth, and to show God (and ourselves) that we are humble and read to receive God’s Spirit.

The Collect:

The collect (pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable) is one of the most ancient forms of Christian prayer. Once the format of the collect is learned, it is very easy to construct simple prayers that are relevant to any situation. It is always best to keep the phrases short, simple, and always addressed to God.

The phrases in bold print below are taken from a very old example of a collect, as an illustration.

1. Address to God. (Almighty God)
2. A Characteristic of God’s nature. (To whom all hearts are open,)
3. A petition. (Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts)
4. The purpose for the petition. (That we may perfectly love you)
5. Doxology/Conclusion (Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and for ever. Amen.)

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