An Introduction to Prayer

Prayer is our way of communicating with God and being communicated with by God.
Prayer is about relationship; it is about us and God in this moment, now.

– Archbishop Linda Nicholls – Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada

“If you understand personal prayer to be about letting your thoughts be lifted up and away from you so that you are finally silent, you are on the right track. Jesus teaches that God will answer anyone who asks or seeks, but you cannot possibly hear the answer if your own voice is in the way. Best to pray away until there is nothing more for you to say, and then, when you can be silent, to trust that the wisdom of the Spirit is speaking, and let it be. Get up and go your way: you have been heard and answered—live it out and see what happens! – Bishop Shane Parker – Anglican Diocese of Ottawa

There are as many ways of praying as there are individuals. Our personalities and life experiences influence how we pray, and there are many different types of prayer.

Never, ever underestimate the importance of the Ministry of Prayer

Types of Christian Prayer

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.

Prayer While Moving

Some people do their best and are most comfortable praying while they are moving. Prayer Walking can be a wonderful gift for those who like to get up and move around while intentionally communicating with God. Prayer Walking can be done in any location at any time, sometimes alone or with a group. Examples of praying while moving are: Prayer Labyrinths; praying the Stations of the Cross and Pilgrimages.

Praying for Others

Praying for others is often called intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer invites us into God’s care and concern for us, our families and friends, and the entire world. No concern is too trivial for God to receive with loving attention. However, intercession is not a means of manipulating heaven into doing our will. Rather it is a way we become aware of god’s will for a person or situation and we join with god in that situation. Our desire is to turn our concerns and worries into prayer; to enter God’s heart for the world and then pray from there.

Pastoral Care and Prayer

Jesus calls all of us to care for and to be “present” to others. Pastoral Care is a ministry of “presence”, based on faith and prayer to provide support and love to those who are in need. Pastoral Care is a journey shared in a concerned relationship, and the journey is equally significant in the lives of both travellers and to God.

Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for a pastoral visitor to pray with and/or for the person being visited. If there is any doubt the visitor should ask the person they are visiting if they would like the visitor to pray for and/or with them. Using familiar prayers is frequently the most comforting to someone who is in distress. Some useful prayers can be found at Traditional Prayers.

Christian Meditation

Meditation is a Universal Tradition found in all the great religions. As such, it offers an important common ground for inter-religious dialog and a basis for peace in the world. Many Christians have been helped to recover contact with their own tradition of meditation, or contemplative prayer, because of the work of Fr. John Main, who is the inspiration of the World Community of Christian Meditation.

Healing Prayer

Healing prayer is perhaps best summarized in the phrase: “Christian healing is Jesus Christ meeting a person at his/her point of greatest need.” Jesus does the healing, not us. Those praying for healing are channels of God’s healing power and love. The “Gift of Healing” is given to those for whom we pray, not to those who do the praying. Christian healing involves the well being of the whole person: body; mind; and spirit. Often spiritual and emotional healing is needed before physical healing can take place. In praying for healing we are praying for wholeness.

Jesus said: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” (Matt. 10:7-8).

Music & Prayer

Music plays a part in most people’s lives and can be listened to on various levels of our intellect and emotions. Music can be used in our prayer life in various ways. For some, music can be used as an introduction to their prayer time and maybe to round it off. For others, music is prayer. An excellent example being Taizé music with its repeated phrases.

There are many musical styles that can be used with prayer and in addition to traditional tunes and words ‘secular’ and even popular styles as well as specifically ‘religious’ music are often used. Different types of music can be used for different topics in a prayer session, e.g. thanksgiving, penitence, petition, intercession.

Art & Prayer

Throughout history, Christians have used art as a tool of informing and educating people about the Good News of Jesus and the contents of Scripture, particularly in cultures and circumstances where the general population could not read or write. Art has also been used, most notably by the eastern Church as a tool to connect with God in prayer. This is exemplified in the use of Icons in prayer.

Art can also be used as a tool for Christians to express their spirituality and as a form of prayer.

Many churches in the Diocese are decorated with stained glass windows that add to the ambiance and prayer awareness in the buildings.

Taizé

The Taizé Community is an ecumenical Christian monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is composed of a little over 100 brothers who come from Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work.

The community, though Western European in origin, seeks to welcome people and traditions from across the globe. This is reflected in the music and prayers where songs are sung in many languages, and increasingly include chants and icons from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The music emphasizes simple phrases, usually lines from Psalms or other pieces of Scripture, repeated and sometimes also sung in canon. The repetition is intended to aid meditation and prayer.

Much of the earlier Taizé community music was conceived and composed by Jacques Berthier. Later Joseph Gelineau became a major contributor to the music. Taizé many places across the world, ecumenical prayers using music from Taizé are organized by people, young and old, who have been in touch with the community. The community’s website provides reflections, prayers, and songs for use in local prayers. For information about Taizé worship and music in Ottawa, contact Taizé Ottawa.

Treat yourself and listen to some Taizé music: Surrexit Christus

Prayer Labyrinths

Unlike a maze, the labyrinth is has a single path leading to the center with no loops, cul-de-sacs or forks. They all share the basic features of an entrance or mouth, a single circuitous path and a center or goal. The labyrinth is a universal symbol for the world, with its complications and difficulties, which we experience on our journey through life. The entry to the labyrinth is birth; the center is death and eternal life. In Christian terms, the thread that leads us through life is divine grace. Like any pilgrimage, the labyrinth represents the inner pilgrimage we are called to make to take us to the center of our being

Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross is a popular devotion used by individuals or groups who wish through prayer and reflection to follow Jesus Christ on his way to Calvary. Many Christians practice the devotion, but the Stations hold a special significance among some Anglicans and Roman Catholics. It is one of the most important devotions honouring the passion of Jesus.What matters most in the Stations of the Cross is to follow Jesus Christ in his passion and to see ourselves mirrored in him. To face life’s dark side in ourselves and in our world, we need images of hope, and Jesus offers images of hope in his passion. By accompanying him on the Way of the Cross, we gain his courageous patience and learn to trust in God who delivers us from evil.

There are some variations in the stations that are used in various churches and places. In recent years some variations have been introduced into the traditional devotion. One of these is the addition of a 15th station – the Resurrection of Jesus. Another is a series of scriptural stations, which begin with the Agony of Jesus in Gethsemane and omit some of the traditional non-scriptural stations in favour of incidents mentioned in the gospels.

Traditional Prayer

Traditional prayers are so familiar to many Anglicans, that they are steeped into our soles.

“Even at a time in our lives and particularly when I have ministered and been in pastoral work in nursing homes with those who have forgotten much else, the one thing they remember is the Lord’s Prayer. They can be completely out of it in relationship to almost everything else, and you start the Lord’s Prayer, or the 23rd PSALM, and they are right there.” ~ Archbishop Linda Nicholls

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those
who trespass again us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

The 23rd Psalm

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

There are many, many more Prayer Resources available on the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer (Canada) website.

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