Shrewsbury Abbey

A Guide to Prayer

In this section you can find some guidence about how to pray, please click on the links below to learn more.

A Guide to Prayer

Much prayer is corporate, that is to say we do it together and this is reflected in much of what you will say when you come to Church. Yet there is another side to our prayer life, our own individual prayers.

Whether you are a child, young person or an adult, it is easier than you might imagine! Millions of people of every age pray every day. You don’t have to know any prayers if you want to pray – in fact, words can often get in the way. Say what is in your heart, what you feel.

Remember!

God hears every prayer – but not all prayers are answered in the way we might expect or desire!

Thankfully we don’t (usually) live all our lives in moments of extreme crisis. What about day-to-day praying? We need to come closer to God, to experience His love for us and to try to make sense of where we are in the world. Prayer is the way we do this.

How to start? There are lots of ways and the next few pages are some examples of how we might begin to pray.

However you pray, and whether you have your own way or use one of the ways described in this Booklet, it is always good to have a few general guidelines –

  • Wherever it is possible set aside regular times for prayer.
  • Have some idea of what and who you want to pray for.

  • Ask God in prayer, but don’t forget to give thanks as well.

The main pattern of prayer is this:

We speak – God listens

God speaks – we listen

Prayer Pattern 1: Use your hand.

Your fingers can be used to bring to your mind different things to pray for.

Thumb – This is the strongest digit on your hand. Give thanks for all the strong things in your life that support and sustain you.

Index finger – This is the pointing finger.  Pray for all those people and organisations in your life which guide and help you. Examples might be friends, teachers, doctors, nurses, emergency services and so on.

Middle finger – This is the tallest finger. Pray for all the people who have power, like world leaders and their governments, Members of Parliament and local councillors, the Royal Family, and the people who support them in their work.

Ring finger – This is the weakest finger on your hand. It cannot do much by itself. Remember the poor, the weak, the helpless, the hungry, the sick, the ill and the bereaved.

Little finger – this is the smallest and the last finger on your hand. Pray for yourself.

Prayer Pattern 2: ACTS

This serves to remind us of the Prayer life of the early church and the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ but it is also a jolly good acronym for a daily prayer discipline:

A – is for Adoration. Begin your time of prayer by acknowledging how great God really is – One of the prayers in the anthology section begins, ‘You are holy, Lord, the only God, and your deeds are wonderful….’

C – is for Confession. Then move into a time in which you bring before God anything which you know is not right in your life. Someone once said, ‘the only sins God is aware of are the ones we haven’t told Him about’!! The great gift of God where sin is concerned is the gift of forgiveness – so tell Him.

T – is for Thanksgiving. Very often prayer can become a shopping list of ‘God… will you do this, that and the other’. Nothing at all wrong with such asking, but it is a good idea to give thanks first.

S –  is for Supplication. This is when we ask God to hear our prayers. Sometimes these can be simple prayers, God bless Mummy, Daddy, Nanny, Grampy, Auntie Dot etc, etc, etc… Other times they can be focused on one person or particular need.

It is good to finish with a formal prayer – The Lord’s Prayer is an example of such a concluding prayer.

Prayer Pattern 3 Lord, How Do We Pray?

Jesus’ followers asked him this question – and he replied by relating to them the prayer which is the most famous in the world, the one we call the ‘Lord’s Prayer’. This has 3 sections – The first section consists of a series of statements about God. The second section is a series of requests with a ‘twist’. The third section has been added by the church as a concluding sentence.

The Lord’s Prayer can be used as a framework for our own prayers by using each phrase as a starter for our own prayers as follows:

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; this is rather like the A in Acts (see previous page) and is an acknowledgement of God’s holiness. After you have said these words, take time to praise God who is the infinite creator God.

thy kingdom come; thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. This continues the theme of God’s greatness and can lead us to pray for the ministry of His church on earth, that His mission will be done on earth, and it can help us to focus prayers on places where there is strife and unrest.

Give us this day our daily bread. This begins the second section of the prayer and it is an opportunity for us to pray for our needs; as another prayer puts it, ‘that which is most expedient for us’.  There is nothing wrong with praying for one’s self —— sometimes we need to earnestly!

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. This is a confessional with a two edged sword. We need to bring before God those things which are wrong in our life; our impatience, temper, intemperance, harsh words, impure thoughts and all that might be described as ‘sin’. But when others wrong us we need to be able to forgive them. So in this section, as hard as it may be, we need to pray for those who have hurt us.

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. This section gives us an opportunity to pray for things that are coming up in the future – that meeting or appointment, that holiday or contract, anything which we are planning. It is an opportunity to listen to God’s word before we make decisions – but careful though, it is not meant to help us prevaricate or have someone (God) to blame if we make the wrong decision.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. This is the part added by the church and we can use this to conclude our prayer time with thanksgiving and praise.

Prayer Pattern 4: Persistent Psalmody

The Psalms are the day-by-day link between two sides of Christian responses to God; the ‘Collective Worship’ of the gathered community we call ‘church’ when it comes together to worship and the ‘Re-collective Worship’ of individual Christians for the specific and personal thanksgiving, penitential and intercessory prayers which we are called to pray as and when they are needed.

Coming from the Judaic roots of Christianity and over centuries distilled into the regular pattern of the spiritual life of monastic, especially Benedictine, early Christianity, the Psalms have been said on weekly or monthly cycles. Amazingly, and encouragingly, the Anglican corpus of liturgy retains the following pattern of praying the Psalms according to the Judeo-Christian traditions which date back some 3000 years. This pattern of prayer is raw, dynamic and life changing.

 

Praying the Psalms in this twice daily pattern is the most recommended:

Psalms 1 – 5:                      Day 1. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 6 – 8:                      Day 1. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 9 – 11:                     Day 2. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 12 – 14:                   Day 2. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 15 – 17:                   Day 3. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 18:                          Day 3: Evening Prayer.

Psalms 19 – 21:                   Day 4. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 22 – 23:                   Day 4. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 24 – 26:                   Day 5. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 27 – 29.                   Day 5. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 30 – 31:                   Day 6. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 32 – 34:                   Day 6. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 35 – 36:                   Day 7. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 37:                          Day 7. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 38 – 40:                  Day 8. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 41 – 43:                  Day 8. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 44 – 46:                  Day 9. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 47 – 49:                  Day 9. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 50 – 52:                  Day 10. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 53 – 55:                  Day 10. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 56 – 58:                  Day 11. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 59 – 61:                  Day 11. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 62 – 64:                  Day 12. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 65 – 67:                  Day 12. Evening Prayer.

Psalm 68:                          Day 13. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 69 – 70:                   Day 13. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 71 – 72:                   Day 14. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 73 – 74:                   Day 14. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 75 – 77:                   Day 15. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 78:                          Day 15. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 79 – 81:                   Day 16. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 82 – 85:                   Day 16. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 86 – 88:                   Day 17. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 89:                          Day 17. Evening Prayer.

PPsalms 90 – 92:                   Day 18. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 93 – 94:                   Day 18. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 95 – 97:                   Day 19. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 98 – 101:                 Day 19. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 102 – 103:               Day 20. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 104:                        Day 20. Evening Prayer.

Psalm 105:                        Day 21. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 106:                        Day 21. Evening Prayer.

Psalm 107:                        Day 22. Morning Prayer.

PPsalms 108 – 109:               Day 22. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 110 – 113:               Day 23. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 114 – 115:               Day 23. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 116 – 118:               Day 24. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 119 v1 – 32:              Day 24. Evening Prayer.

Psalm 119 v33 – 72:            Day 25. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 119 v73 – 104:          Day 25. Evening Prayer.

Psalm 119 v105 – 144:        Day 26. Morning Prayer.

Psalm 119 v145 – 176:        Day 26. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 120 – 125:               Day 27. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 126 – 131.               Day 27. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 132 – 135:               Day 28. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 136 – 138:              Day 28. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 139 – 141:               Day 29. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 142 – 143:               Day 29. Evening Prayer.

Psalms 144 – 146:               Day 30. Morning Prayer.

Psalms 147 – 150:               Day 30. Evening Prayer.

Prayer Pattern 5: Using your senses

It can be very helpful to focus on something as you pray. Some examples of this are:

Candles – Think about what or who you are going to pray for. Then light one or more candles. If you are going to pray for one person or thing, maybe just light one candle, if for several then perhaps light one candle for each. Night lights (tea lights) are very good and can burn for a long time. There are short stubby candles which are sold as ‘church candles’ and are very good for this. You can buy wrought iron candlesticks very easily these days to allow candles to be ‘3D’ in their effect.

Icons – Icons are very special pictures. They are not images in the manner proscribed by the second commandment. Icons have been described as ‘Doorways to the Sacred’ and they are used to help us focus not on the picture itself, but on what is ‘behind’ the picture. So, an Icon of Christ is not an idol or image, but a doorway to help us focus on the divinity of Christ. Very often they can be used to concentrate prayers on the nature of God and can be aids to praise and thanksgiving. Candles and Icons can be used together.

Pictures – The use of pictures can help us in many ways and a picture of nature in all its glory can be a tremendous aid to prayer. Pictures that are not pretty can also be helpful in aiding our prayers for those in need.

Music – The use of music can be a wonderful aid to prayer. Such music can be ancient or modern, simple or grand, short or long, played once or played repetitively. You can chose different music to help prayer with different themes.

Incense – This can be used to give a sense of well-being – after all, prayer should touch all our senses.

Frequently Asked (Prayer) Questions

Q: Do I have to kneel to pray?

A: No, only kneel if you want to.

Q: Is silence needed for prayer?

A: No, but it is helpful not to have too much distracting background noise.

Q: Do I need to write things down for prayer?

A: Some people keep a prayer diary and find this very useful. If you’re struggling, give it a try and see if it helps.

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