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Saturday, March 30, 2024

21 Ways to Pray (plus variations, bonuses, and tips)

I focused on prayer in my personal life during the 40 days of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. I heard recently that prayer is the engine that drives life. The illustration was of car. You can have a beautiful, shiny car with brand new tires and an immaculate interior, but it won't take you anywhere if it doesn't have an engine; it's pretty useless. In your life, you may impress people with your outward appearance by saying and doing the right things, but you won't get anywhere without prayer. Prayer is the engine that moves us spiritually. And prayer is so much more than we think. Here are 21 different ways of pray, plus several bonuses, variations, and tips. I pray these will help you go deeper in prayer and connect you to the power of God to move your life.

1. Simple Prayer
Richard Foster names 21 types of prayer in his book "Prayer".  The first type is "Simple Prayer".  Simple Prayer is coming to God just as we are, without pretense, sharing our thoughts, feelings, joys, and sorrows. It's the foundation of a prayer life, emphasizing honesty and openness with God, akin to a child speaking to a loving parent. This form of prayer encourages us to lay down our complexities and approach God with simplicity and sincerity.  You don't have to do anything special.  You just talk to God.

2. Prayer of the Forsaken
Prayer of the Forsaken is when we cry out to God from a place of feeling abandoned or distant. It mirrors Jesus' own cry on the cross, helping us to express our deepest doubts and fears to God, trusting that He is with us even when He seems far away. This prayer teaches us that it's okay to question and wrestle with God's presence in our lives.

3. The Prayer of the Examen
The Prayer of Examen is a reflective practice that involves reviewing our day in the presence of God, identifying moments where we felt closest to or furthest from Him. It encourages gratitude for God's presence and asks for His guidance in recognizing His work in our lives, helping us to notice and respond to God's daily invitations.

4. The Prayer of Tears
The Prayer of Tears allows us to bring our deepest hurts, grief, and sorrow before God, trusting Him with our vulnerabilities. It acknowledges that it's okay to cry and be broken before God, who comforts us and collects our tears as a testament to our trust in His presence and healing.

5. The Prayer of Relinquishment
The Prayer of Relinquishment is about letting go of our desires and outcomes, surrendering our will to God's will. It's a practice of trust, where we release control and open ourselves to God's plans, finding peace in the midst of uncertainty and faith in God's goodness.

6. Formation Prayer
Formation Prayer focuses on allowing God to shape and mold our inner being, aligning our hearts, minds, and wills with His. It's a prayer of transformation, seeking to become more like Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, fostering spiritual growth and maturity.

7. The Prayer of Adoration
The Prayer of Adoration centers on praising God for who He is, beyond what He does for us. It's an expression of love and worship, acknowledging God's greatness, goodness, and sovereignty, drawing us into a posture of awe and reverence.

8. The Prayer of Rest
The Prayer of Rest is about finding peace and rest in God's presence, trusting Him beyond our understanding or efforts. It encourages us to cease striving, to relax in God's love and care, and to find rejuvenation and strength in His sovereignty.

9. Sacramental Prayer
Sacramental Prayer sees the sacred in the ordinary, recognizing and celebrating God's presence in rituals and everyday moments. It bridges the spiritual and physical, inviting us to encounter God through tangible means and acknowledging His grace in all aspects of life.

10. Unceasing Prayer
Unceasing Prayer is the practice of maintaining a constant awareness of God's presence throughout our daily activities. It teaches us to turn every thought, word, and action into a prayer, fostering a deep, ongoing communion with God.

11. The Prayer of the Heart
The Prayer of the Heart is a silent, wordless prayer where the heart communes directly with God. It transcends language, focusing on the deep inner connection between the believer and the Divine, often leading to profound experiences of God's presence and love.

12. Intercessory Prayer
Intercessory Prayer involves praying on behalf of others, lifting their needs, concerns, and situations before God. It's a powerful way to express love and compassion, standing in the gap for those around us and believing in God's power to intervene.

13. Healing Prayer
Healing Prayer seeks God's healing touch for physical, emotional, or spiritual wounds. It's an act of faith, inviting God's restorative power into our lives or the lives of others, acknowledging His ability to heal and transform.

14. The Prayer of Suffering
The Prayer of Suffering joins our own sufferings with those of Christ, offering them up for the benefit of others or as a form of intercession. It's a profound expression of solidarity with the suffering of Jesus, finding purpose and redemption in our own pain.

15. Authoritative Prayer
Authoritative Prayer uses the authority granted to us through Jesus to pray against evil and for the establishment of God's kingdom on earth. It's a bold form of prayer that confronts darkness with the power of Christ's victory, asserting God's rule and reign in various situations.

16. The Prayer of Radical Commitment
The Prayer of Radical Commitment is a total surrender to God, dedicating our lives fully to His service and glory. It's a decisive step of faith, choosing to follow God's calling and purposes above all else, regardless of the cost.

17. Prayer of the Ordinary
Prayer of the Ordinary finds God in the mundane aspects of life, celebrating His presence in everyday moments. It encourages us to see the divine in the ordinary, fostering a sense of sanctity and gratitude in all aspects of life.

18. Prayer of Petition
Prayer of Petition brings our personal needs, desires, and concerns before God, asking for His help and provision. It's a form of prayer that expresses our dependence on God, trusting Him to care for us in both big and small matters.

19. Corporate Prayer
Corporate Prayer is the collective prayer of a community, whether a church, family, or group of believers. It emphasizes the unity and power found in praying together, strengthening the community's faith and fostering a shared experience of God's presence.

20. Prayer of Thanksgiving
Prayer of Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude to God for His blessings, grace, and work in our lives. It's a reminder to acknowledge God's goodness and to cultivate a heart of thankfulness in all circumstances.

21. Prayer of Praise
Prayer of Praise joyfully acknowledges God's greatness, celebrating His attributes and acts. It's a prayer that elevates God above all else, rejoicing in His majesty and expressing our unwavering adoration and love.

BONUS (More Tips and Ways to Pray):

22. The Prayer of Abandonment
The Prayer of Abandonment is a profound form of prayer that involves surrendering oneself fully to God's will, especially in moments of feeling forsaken or in deep distress. It is characterized by a total relinquishment of one's own desires and plans, trusting God completely even when His presence feels distant or His plans unclear. This prayer reflects a deep faith and acceptance of God's sovereignty, embracing whatever comes as part of His divine purpose.

23. The Prayer of Waiting
The Prayer of Waiting is an act of stillness and patience in God's presence, trusting in His timing and wisdom without rushing for an immediate answer or outcome. It emphasizes the virtue of quiet trust and the relinquishment of control, allowing God to work in His own time and way.  “Lord, in this quiet moment, I wait for You. Teach me to rest in Your timing, embracing the peace that comes from trusting in Your perfect plans for my life. Amen.”

24. The Examen of Conscience
The Examen of Conscience involves a thoughtful reflection on our actions, thoughts, and emotions throughout the day, assessing them against our spiritual and moral values. This introspective practice helps identify areas of sin or neglect, prompting repentance and the desire for personal growth in alignment with God's will.

25. Meditative Prayer
In Meditative Prayer, we engage in focused reflection on Scripture, the nature of God, or spiritual truths. It emphasizes the importance of quieting the mind and heart to listen attentively to God's voice and presence, fostering a personal and transformative encounter with the Divine. This form of prayer cultivates a space for the soul to explore the depths of faith, enabling a deeper understanding and intimacy with God through thoughtful meditation and reflection.

26. Contemplative Prayer
Contemplative prayer
is a silent, loving encounter with God, characterized by resting in His presence rather than engaging in verbal communication. It's a deep form of prayer that seeks to experience God's presence intimately, beyond words or thoughts, fostering a profound spiritual union.  One way to practice this form of prayer would be to begin with a brief prayer or Scripture reading to center your thoughts on God.  Sit comfortably and breathe deeply.  Silently invite God into this time, expressing your desire to be with Him.  Let go of specific prayers, thoughts, and images. Embrace the silence, resting in God's presence. If your mind wanders, gently return your focus to God without judgment.  Listen: Stay open and receptive to God. Contemplative Prayer is more about listening to God than speaking to Him.  End your time of prayer with a moment of thanksgiving, acknowledging God's presence and the time spent together.

27. Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina, or "Divine Reading," is an ancient Christian practice that combines reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation of Scripture to foster a deeper communion with God. Through this four-step process, believers are invited to listen to the Holy Spirit's guidance, allowing God's Word to speak personally and transform their lives.  Methodi:  Take a reading from scripture; the psalms or parts of the prophets or epistles are most useful for this style of prayer.  Read through the text very slowly.  When you are struck by a word or a phrase STOP.  Stay with the words that moved you, maybe repeating them slowly, allowing them to sink into your heart. Only move on when you are quite ready.  Try to have an inner stillness so that you can perceive the gentle action of God.  Examples of texts you might use are:  Psalm 139:1-18;Isaiah 43:1-3;Romans 8:14-17, 28-39; 2 Timothy 1:6-10.

28. Prayers of Protection
Prayers of protection are
petitions to God for safeguarding against spiritual, physical, and emotional harm. These prayers invoke God's power to shield and deliver individuals or communities from evil, danger and deception, emphasizing trust in God's omnipotence and care. They serve as a reminder of the believer's reliance on God for security and the assurance that, even in times of peril, God's protective presence is a constant refuge.

29. Body Posture
Body Posture - In his book "Prayer," Richard Foster highlights the significance of body posture in enhancing the prayer experience, suggesting that physical positions, such as kneeling, standing, or lifting hands, can reflect and even deepen the intentions of the heart in prayer. He explains that these postures are not mere outward forms but can significantly impact the inward spirit of prayer, promoting humility, reverence, and openness to God. Foster encourages believers to consider how their physical posture can express and facilitate a more profound engagement with God during prayer.

Kneeling - Signifying humility and submission to God.

Standing - Reflecting respect and honor in God's presence.

Lifting Hands - Indicating surrender and a desire to receive from God.

Bowing - Expressing reverence and worship.

Prostration (lying face down) - Demonstrating utmost humility and dependency on God.

Walking - Used in walking prayers or labyrinths, symbolizing a spiritual journey or pilgrimage.

30. Dancing Prayer
The Tripudium is a form of sacred dance prayer mentioned by Richard Foster as an expression of joy and worship. It traditionally involves a pattern of three steps forward and one step back, symbolizing the dance's progression and occasional retreats in the spiritual journey. This rhythmic movement serves as a physical metaphor for the spiritual life, where the faithful advance in their relationship with God, encounter challenges or moments of reflection, and then continue forward. The Tripudium is celebrated as a way to engage the body in prayer and worship, embodying the joy and dynamism of the spiritual walk with God.  Click here for an example of the Tripudium dance.

31. Labyrinth Prayer
A labyrinth is used in prayer as a tool for meditation and spiritual reflection, offering a physical path that mirrors the journey of life and the inner journey of the soul towards God. Walking the labyrinth involves following a single, winding path to the center and back out again, which facilitates a contemplative state where one can meditate on Scripture and pray in the presence of God. This practice allows individuals to quiet their minds, focus on their spiritual walk, and seek clarity or guidance. The labyrinth serves as a metaphor for the twists and turns of life, inviting walkers to surrender their questions and burdens as they move towards the center, symbolizing a deeper communion with God, and then carrying back out into the world the peace and insights they have received.

32. Written Prayer
Another way to pray that has been helpful for me is to write out your prayers.  The writing process can help you collect your thoughts and refine your prayer into more specific terms.  Writing out your prayers can also serve to keep a record of your prayers (a prayer journal) that you can review later to see how your prayers have evolved and/or how God has answered your prayers.  Written prayers can also be left in special places.  There is a long tradition of writing short prayers and leaving them in the cracks of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

33. Breath Prayer
Breath Prayers are a simple practice that involves pairing a brief prayer with the rhythm of one's breathing. A short phrase or scripture that can be spoken in one breath is chosen to pray throughout the day. This form of prayer encourages mindfulness and constant communion with God. As one inhales and exhales, the prayer is silently repeated, embedding the prayer into the very act of breathing encouraging ongoing connection with God. This practice helps center the believer's thoughts on God's presence, offering peace and spiritual focus amidst the busyness of daily life.

34. The Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer is a simple yet profound prayer consisting of the invocation: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." It is designed to foster a continual awareness of God's presence and to facilitate a deepening of one's relationship with Christ through repetition, often in sync with one's breathing. The prayer embodies humility, repentance, and a heartfelt plea for God's mercy, making it a powerful tool for spiritual growth and contemplation.

35. Centering Prayer
Centering Prayer is a method of Christian meditation that encourages practitioners to cultivate inner silence and a deeper awareness of God's presence by letting go of their own thoughts and emotions.
Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you. Let that word be gently present as your symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you. Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations, etc.), simply return to your sacred word, your anchor.  Suggestions for centering words:  Peace, Love, Grace, Trust, Mercy, Light, or Presence.

36. Float Sessions with the Holy Spirit
Let me share a memorable prayer retreat I try to practice about once a year. It started a few years ago when my wife gifted me a float session at Lucidity Float in Chattanooga, TN. They provide 90 minute sessions in a specially designed float tank filled with highly concentrated salt water. The concentration is so high you float in the water. The tank is also enclosed and completely dark. It is a very relaxing, distressing experience (unless you are claustrophobic).  I also find it quite prayerful. My method is to choose a short verse to be my focus during the session. As I float silently in the pool of water, I concentrate on the verse as I slowly clear my mind of all else. It usually takes 15-30 minutes to get centered. My mind will wander to things I need to do, people I need to call, etc. But each time I realize my distraction, I gently return to my verse. Eventually, I am totally relaxed and my mind is clear and focused. It's hard to describe, but I enter a state halfway between awake and sleep. Sometimes I actually do drift off to sleep for a moment, but then I surface to an in-between state of consciousness centered in the Scripture I've chosen.  On my most recent float for my 50th birthday, I chose Jesus’ baptism from Matthew 3:16-17, especially the phrase “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Entering into a state of deep meditation, I received God's gracious affirmation that Christ is in my heart and therefore those words from Matthew 3:17 are for me too. I am His dearly loved son, and God is pleased with me. I imagined the Holy Spirit Dove descending on Jesus as He rose up out of the baptismal waters. Then, my mind wandered from the waters of Jesus’ baptism to the waters of creation in Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” This was a connection I had never thought of before. And I can't rightly say I thought of it then either. Rather, it was given to me by the Holy Spirit as I meditated on God's Word subconsciously. This “soaking in God's Word” was deeply refreshing and insightful as the Spirit guided my mind through many other moments in Scripture where the Spirit interacted with water--the dove soaring from Noah's ark to find dry land after the great flood, the holy presence of God in the pillar of fire and smoke parting the Red Sea to deliver His people from Egypt, Elisha's lost ax head floating to the surface of the Jordan River, the Ethiopian Eunuch being baptized by Philip before Philip is inexplicably carried away by the Holy Spirit.  Prayer is a powerful thing–refreshing and renewing, connecting and surrounding us with the power of God, the source and sustainer of life.  Delve deep into prayer.  Soak in it.  Float in it.  If you’d like to try a float session, you can read more about them and book appointments at this link.

37. In the Name of Jesus
Praying "In the Name of Jesus" signifies more than just appending a phrase at the end of a prayer. It is praying with the awareness and recognition of who Jesus is, His authority, and His will. To pray in Jesus' name means to pray in alignment with His character, purposes, and desires, as if Jesus Himself were making the request. It implies a deep relational understanding and connection with Christ, acknowledging His role as mediator between God and humanity. Praying in Jesus' name invites His power and presence into the situation, asking for prayers to be answered according to His will and for His glory.  Whether or not the specific phrase “in Jesus’ name” is specifically stated, all true Christian prayer seeks to embody the attitude of being in Jesus’ name.

38. Amen
The word "Amen" is a declaration of affirmation often found at the end of prayers, signifying agreement and truth. It is derived from Hebrew, meaning "so be it" or "truly," and has been adopted as the traditional closing word to prayers and hymns, underscoring the trust and faith placed in the words that precede it. "Amen" is more than a ritualistic conclusion; it is a powerful expression of belief and confidence in the promises of God, symbolizing the prayerful petitioner's hope that their words will be heard and acted upon by the Divine. Its use unites believers in a common acknowledgment of the presence and sovereignty of God, making it a profound connective thread in the fabric of spiritual practice.

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