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Notes on Prayer from Pastor Tiffany Towberman

pray53cHow many opportunities life and the realities of this world give us for the practice of prayer. Prayer is a powerful and effective tool that reminds us of God’s sovereignty and our place before him, even as we bring him the concerns of our hearts and call on his power to intervene. It is a blessing that we can bestow on another. It is personal, but it is also communal as our voices join those of others transcending barriers, accessible to all. Many of you agreed to support the youth of this congregation by being a prayer partner during their trip to Detroit for the National Gathering. Thank you for being God’s blessing in this way. As I mentioned in my article last month, there are so many different ways to pray and I think it is important to stretch ourselves in our communication with God by exploring and trying some new ways to deepen the meaning of this practice in our lives. This month I promised to explain a few of these styles so that you might find one that you’d like to try.

 

Prayer can be silent, spoken, communicated with movement, written, drawn, played through music or any combination of the above. I believe that if we deepen the practice of prayer in our lives that our families, our church and our world will be better for it. I invite you to respond to this invitation.

 

One basic format for a simple prayer is the PTA prayer.

P=Praise- start with an opening salutation such as “Almighty loving creator….”

T=Thank- remember and give thanks for a blessing that has been received “Thank you for our church”

A=Ask- third in order is a request of what we need “Please watch over the youth as they travel”

 

Another format that is similar is the 5 finger prayerhands22c

Thumb- pray for those nearest to your in your life

Index- for those who teach, instruct, and heal

Middle- for the leaders of this world

Ring- for those who are weakest or in trouble or pain

Pinky- for ourselves and our needs

(Both of these formats put our place in perspective by expressing our own need last.)

 

Another style of prayer that is very different from these others is called Lectio Divina.

Lectio Divina is a Latin term, means “divine reading” and it describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us.

The first stage is lectio (reading) where we read the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us. Any passage of Scripture can be used for this way of prayer but the passage should not be too long.

The second stage is meditatio (reflection) where we think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us.

The third stage is oratio (response) where we leave our thinking aside and simply let our hearts speak to God. This response is inspired by our reflection on the Word of God.

The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplatio (rest) where we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations but also of our holy words and thoughts.

 

Another prayer style I will highlight is the Jesus prayer

“The Jesus Prayer” refers to a short prayer, the words of which are: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,’ constantly repeated. The Jesus Prayer is known to innumerable Orthodox and many other Christians as a form of devotion that can be used at any moment, whatever the situation. The main emphasis is on the repetition of the prayer; it can be said while sitting, walking, or working, silently or aloud. If those words do not resonate with you, try repetition throughout the day of another phrase such as those I list below. You may even wish to write it on a card to carry with you throughout the day to remember.

“You are enough for me”  “God is here”  “God is my center”  “Come alive in my soul”

 

And finally, a more scripted format given to us by Martin Luther in the Small Catechism

In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say:

In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer:

I thank Thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, that Thou hast kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray Thee to keep me this day also from sin and all evil, that all my doings and life may please Thee. For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Thy holy angel be with me, that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go to your work with joy, singing a hymn, such as one on the Ten Commandments, or what your devotion may suggest.

 

In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say:

In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer:

I thank Thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, that Thou hast graciously kept me this day, and I pray Thee to forgive me all my sins, where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Thy holy angel be with me, that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully.

 

I’ll be remembering you in my prayers,

Pastor Tiffany

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