Pray without Ceasing
My apartment is loud. The couple that lives below me had twins six months ago, and I can hear their crying and electronic baby toys through the floor. The people who moved in above me have a toddler, and he runs back and forth and back and forth for what seems like hours on end. The guy who lives beside me frequently fights with his significant other in a language I can’t understand, and every morning, 17 garbage trucks have a party outside my open window.
This is where I live, and this is where I go for quiet moments with God. Every morning while the babies are crying and the garbage trucks are booming, I sit on my couch with my Bible and attempt to pray. All that loud city noise, however, is nothing compared to the noise that rises in my brain when I am still.
Several years ago, a roommate of mine read a funny article about prayer for the varying Myers Briggs types. I am an ENFP, and this is how the article described prayer for my type: “Dear God, help me to focus on one th - Look, a bird! - thing at a time.”
It’s embarrassingly accurate. My mind is prone to wander at a pace that outraces the toddler living above me, and I used to get really discouraged every time I tried to talk to God.
“Why can’t I just focus and pray?” I would think, before trying and failing again.
Eventually, however, I learned that prayer can look like a lot of different things, and incorporating different types of prayer into our lives can actually enhance our relationship with God by connecting us to Him in new ways.
Listed below are a few types of prayer I have found helpful for engaging in a life of prayer:
Prayer in Color
This was one of the first alternative ways to pray that I discovered, and it was a game-changer. Based on a book by Sybil Macbeth, “Praying in Color” uses doodling to help express prayers to God. Often, language cannot adequately hold the need or emotion we’re trying to express. That’s why we have art. That’s why we have music. “Praying in Color” incorporates those same principles into prayer, adding a depth and creativity essential to cultivating a full spiritual life.
To pray in color, write a word or person’s name on the page. Then, grab your colored pencils and start doodling. Allow your thoughts and emotions to guide you until you have a beautiful, visual prayer to return to when you’re done.
You can learn more about “Praying in Color” here.
This is my favorite way to pray for two reasons: it slows me down and centers my thoughts on what God is doing in my heart and they are designed to be incorporated into the fabric of your day.
To create your own breath prayer, sit still for a minute. Take 2 or 3 deep breaths, pausing at the top of each inhale and at the bottom of each exhale.
Allow the varying names of God to cycle through your mind until you find one that resonates with you (Father, God, Provider, Comforter, etc.). Say that name on your next inhale.
Next, find a 3 to 5 word phrase that expresses your need, and say that on your exhale. Repeat this breath prayer five times and carry it with your throughout your day.
An example of a breath prayer would be: Father God, I need you. Or, Jesus, Change my heart.
The Book of Common Prayer
Incorporating liturgy into my spiritual life is new for me, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it! Last year I received a copy of “The Book of Common Prayer, Pocket Edition,” and I discovered something truly sacred in praying prayers that have been prayed by Christians for centuries.
In the intro to the pocket edition, the author says:
“...just because our prayer lives are personal does not mean they are private...as wonderful as...times of solitude can be, prayer moves us beyond what we can do on our own. The gift of liturgy is that it helps us hear less of our own little voices and more of God’s still, small voice. It leads us away from self and points us toward the community of God.”
“The Book of Common Prayer” can be used individually or in group/corporate prayer. I encourage you to check it out. Don’t be intimidated by the old language. This book is something special.
It’s likely you’ve done this without even realizing it. Praying scripture is simply taking a verse from the Bible and using it as a prayer. Often, when words escape us, the Bible has a surprising way of already having the exact words we need to say to God.
One of my favorite passages to use as a prayer is, “In the morning Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you, and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3, New International Version)
You can also mix it up and turn a scripture into a breath prayer!
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of ways to pray, but I hope you find some of them helpful. And if you have experienced another transforming way to pray, please share it in the comments section!
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.