Prayer is both talking to God and listening for God. This guide offers suggestions to help with both directions of prayer. Part one invites you into a more traditional understanding of prayer where you reflect on and share with God prayers for many parts of your life. Part two invites you into a prayerful reading of a Holy Week Scripture passage inspired by an exercise from the book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by Fr. James Martin. Both parts are meant to help you in your time of prayer and can be used independently or however you’d like.
Part One – praying for our world, our church, our families, our communities, and ourselves. You may do this internally, or you might find it helpful to write things down in a journal.
- Take a few minutes to pray for our world.
- What global concerns lay heavily upon your heart today?
- Are you or anyone you know struggling with economic poverty, job loss, discrimination, inadequate housing, place-lessness, addictions, living in a war-torn region, or other widespread afflictions? Hold these concerns or people close to heart, consider saying their name aloud, and pray that God might empower us to be agents of renewal in the vast struggles of our world.
- Take a few minutes to pray for our church.
- Thank God for the things you love about our community of faith. Call to heart and mind some of the people in our community you haven’t seen in a long time, and ask for God’s blessing on them today. Consider sending them a text later to let them know you said a prayer for them.
- Reflect on the ways God may be calling us to grow as a congregation. Ask for God’s Spirit to strengthen our courage to face change and new possibilities with confidence and conviction.
- Take a few minutes to pray for your family.
- Thank God for the relationships that give you love and support; ask for God’s presence in any conflicted relationships. Consider where forgiveness may be needed and ask for God’s strength to be brave enough to forgive and seek reconciliation when appropriate.
- Lift up and name aloud any family members going through difficulties. Ask for God to help you better understand how you can be most supportive to them.
- Take a few minutes to pray for your community.
- Name aloud some of your neighbors and thank God for them—yes, even the ones who frustrate you.
- Reflect on the ways you’ve been faithful to the command to love your neighbor—thank God for the presence of heart and mind to follow through. Reflect on the ways you’ve missed the opportunity to love your neighbor—ask for God’s forgiveness and for another opportunity to do better next time.
- Name or write down any concerns you have for your neighborhood, and ask for God to help you discern how you can contribute to responding to the concern.
- Take a few minutes to pray for yourself.
- Thank God for your body and for all it has carried you through. Sit and feel your full presence in whatever space you’re in today—maybe wiggle your fingers or toes as a reminder of your body being the vessel carrying you through this life.
- Name or write down the things that weigh heaviest on you today—loneliness, sickness, sadness, fear, worry, addiction, discontentment, or whatever you may be carrying today. Offer this to God and invite God to share your burden with you. Consider whether God may be calling you to invite someone else to share this burden with you as well—your pastor, a close friend, a spouse, or a counselor.
Part Two – prayer using lectio divina (literally “sacred reading”). This is one version of lectio divina, an ancient way of reading Scripture imaginatively. It’s a tool to help you read with your heart, not only your head. Read slowly, pause as often as you feel led, and try to savor the words. Don’t just read to consume the story, but really listen for what God may be saying to you today.
Choose a Biblical passage to read and follow these four basic steps. You may want to reread the passage in between each step. Begin by inviting God’s Spirit to help you along the way.
- Step 1: Reading: What does the passage say?
- Read the passage below and get a sense of what’s going on in it. What questions arise for you? Who are the main characters and what are the main actions that are happening?
- Step 2: Meditation: What is God saying to me through the passage?
- Ask if there is something God wants to reveal to you through this passage. Consider rereading the passage, this time more slowly, pausing and savoring any words or phrases that stick out to you.
- Do you notice any links to your own life or to real-world situations that are on your heart today?
- Step 3: Prayer: What do you want to say to God about the passage?
- How does the passage make you feel? What questions still linger for you? What is your reaction? Pour it all out to God.
- Recall what arose for you during the time of meditation, and perhaps pray to God about what you discovered in that time. Does this passage call you to do something that makes you afraid? Are you feeling comforted or something else? Offer all of that to God and sit in that presence with whatever you’re feeling. Sit with questions rather than moving through them too quickly—see if something new begins to emerge.
- Step 4: Action: What do you want to do based on your prayers?
- Prayer should always move us to action, even if that action is some kind of shift within our own inner lives. What might God be saying to you through this passage that changes you, makes you more loving, or moves you toward action?
When you are done, take a few deep breaths and end with a prayer of gratitude for the time to be still and connect with God in this way.