Prayer for beginners

Prayer is a basic part of life as a Christian. We pray in church, at home, together, on our own… We offer thanks to God, ask his forgiveness when we get things wrong, pray for people we care about and much more. Often we pray ‘on the spur of the moment’, responding to situations as we meet them. Choosing to pray in a disciplined way, though, is a step further in life with God.

There are lots of patterns of prayer which we can use, and I’ll try to write a bit about some of them over the coming months. Please let me know what you think, and share any ideas that have helped you to pray – we’re all in this together, and have a lot to learn from each other.

One thing is vital if you’re going to build a pattern of prayer – time. It doesn’t need to be a lot, but you need to set aside at least a few minutes regularly, and to make yourself do it – even if that means leaving some other things undone for the moment.

Get yourself comfortable, and don’t feel that you need to rush straight into praying. Often it helps to spend a few moments being still and breathing deeply to let your mind slow down a bit.

Then comes the praying part. If you’re trying to get started in this, why not use the prayer Jesus taught us? It’s both a wonderful prayer in itself and a great pattern for our own prayers.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your Name.
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the Kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.

From early on in the church, it’s been recommended that we stop to pray this prayer at least three times a day – on rising, at mid-day and in the evening. Try praying it slowly and thoughtfully this way for a few days.

Then take a bit longer, and perhaps once a day, stop after each line to think and pray about the kind if things the prayer mentions. So after ‘Our Father in heaven’ just take a moment to think about God – what do you believe he is like? Ask him to help you to know. After ‘Hallowed be your Name’, think of three things to praise and thank God about. Think through what each line of the prayer means, and spend a few moments praying about those things.

Try this for a week, and see how you feel about prayer then!

The Rev’d Nick Watson


'Helps' to prayer
Making it easier to build a discipline of prayer

Listening to God
Meditation and reflection in prayer

Praying for the world
Introducing intercessory prayer