Ideas on How to Pray

I hope you find these ideas useful when you need a helping hand in starting a prayer-conversation with God.

 

The Pickle Jar

picklejar630x275Josh (Creative Commons)

 

When I was the pastor of Good Shepherd Catholic Church, one day a truly sweet family dropped off a gift for me that I have never forgotten. It was a cardboard box roughly 8 X 8 inches square with white felt glued on it to make it look more special, and it had a slit cut into its lid. Inside the box the kids in the family had written me notes about the things they liked about me or were praying for me.  This incredibly nice gift got me to thinking about boxes and jars and prayers.

Maybe you are finding it hard to know how to begin praying. Well, here’s my idea for a way to jump-start your conversation with God.  How about cutting a slit in the top of a pickle jar, and on pieces of paper write down the things you are having trouble with.  Things you are in a pickle over!  And stick them inside the jar.

You’re in need of some grace to handle a difficult co-worker.  Write it down, and stick it in the jar … tell God!  Your child is having a difficult time in school right now and you feel helpless.  Write it down and stick it in the pickle jar … tell God!  Your finances are running thin. You’re worried sick over this. You need help. Write it down and stick it in the jar … tell God!

I really believe that if you do this it will help you jump-start your conversation/prayer with God, and give you something practical to do instead of  worrying obsessively.  Use the pickle jar!

Morning Prayer

morningwindown630x275Michael McCullough (Creative Commons)

 

Morning Prayer: Read a daybook

Okay, this may sound a little “new age-y” to some people, but for the New Year I began two rituals I have used in the past but had long forgotten.  Perhaps it was working on this blog post of Favorite Prayers that helped me remember some of what I used to do, but it’s been fun to do it all over again.

Each morning I awake and go through my morning ritual of showering, shaving, dressing, giving Brock his pills for the day.  Then, before I leave my bedroom, before I speak with another human being, before checking emails or the weather or to see if someone has texted me in the past ten seconds, I sit down and read one entry from a daybook.  A daybook is a descriptive and chronological diary-like record of someone’s thoughts and inspiration.  The daybook I use today is called, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo.  I love this guy.  A poet.  A cancer survivor.  A modern day prophet.  Mark shares several paragraphs each day on a seemingly random topic, and then follows up what he has written by asking several questions for the reader to consider.  Mark’s book can be picked up on any day of the year, you do not have to begin on January 1st.  Some stuff I am reading sounds familiar to what I have read in previous forays into this book, but lots of stuff is new to me again.  I find myself going through my day with a renewed sense of purpose and I also find myself coming back to Mark’s questions throughout the day as they flood back into my mind at random times.

Morning Prayer: Meditation anyone?

Whoa, wait a minute, who said anything about meditating?  Now you are definitely rolling your eyes …  I can feel it from here!  Stop that.  Yes, I meditate.  Twenty minutes in the morning.  Right after I finish reading whatever section of a book I am reading for inspiration: Scripture, poetry, prayers.  Twenty minutes where I just try to be.  And to not talk.  To open myself up to listen.   To breathe.  And I do the same thing again for twenty minutes at some point in the evening, after 5:00 p.m.  Sometimes I meditate at night after dinner.  Sometimes before an appointment.  Sometimes when I have arrived too soon at someone’s house and find myself with the gift of twenty minutes.  Sometimes when I find myself sitting in a random church where there is nothing but me and an inviting wooden pew.  I encourage you to give meditation a try.

Night Prayers

nightmoon630x275Tina (Creative Commons)

 

My nighttime Prayer Ritual:

  • Our Father
  • Hail Mary
  • Glory Be
  • Thank God for today.
  • Ask God for forgiveness for anything I did wrong today.
  • Ask God to give me another day to make things right.
  • Close by telling God five things I am grateful for this day. (I’m usually out before I list all five!)

Gratitude

During my nightly ritual I finish my prayers by listing at least five things for which I am grateful.  Usually I am so doggone tired at the end of the day that I am in la-la land before I get to list all five, but it is such a nice way to fall asleep – to mentally list things that went well or were positive or helpful in some manner.  I’m told some people keep a gratitude journal and I think that’s great.  It just doesn’t work for me at oh-dark-thirty, because I am already in bed with the sheets pulled up and the lights turned out.  Praying to God and telling God the things I’m grateful for in a day’s time lowers my blood pressure, restores calm and puts me in just the right mood for a restFULL night’s sleep.

 

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