Ways of Prayer

Most of us think of prayer as a one-size-fits all sort of activity. You talk to God, right? And hopefully, listen as well.

But there are a lot of different ways to talk to God. In some traditions; Conservative Judaism and the Anglican Christian Communion to name just two, prayers are most often read out of a prayerbook. In other traditions, like Roman Catholicism and Islam, the prayers of believers are usually memorized. Mainline Protestant Christians often read in unison from a weekly bulletin, while Evangelical Christians pray extemporaneously. Pentecostal Christians pray out loud, while Quakers sit in active silence.

In order to know what kind of prayer best connects your soul to the heart of God, you need to try some different kinds. If you were raised in the silent prayer tradition, go to worship in a congregation that prays out loud. If you are used to reading prayers out loud, find a worshipping community that understands silence. Those of us who “just talk to God” may be surprised at what we feel as we read printed prayers aloud, or pray standing or kneeling. If you have never memorized a prayer to repeat, you may be amazed at how powerful it can be. Chanting or singing a prayer gives it a different dimension than speaking it.

In all of these activities, the purpose is not the prayer form itself, but the relationship we form with God through it. While praying in a different way will likely feel awkward at first, a little practice helps us to access different modalities of our own soul and personality. God is available all these ways and more. God loves to hear from us no matter how we “speak”, and has wisdom, grace and courage to impart to us, no matter how we listen.

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