Many prayers in the Church of England are recited by people together as part of a service, but there is another side to prayer – our own individual prayers, as we try to share in Christ’s prayer to his Father, that his will be done, his kingdom come.
You don’t have to know any prayers if you want to pray – in fact, words can often get in the way. Picture Jesus, and then say what is in your heart, what you feel.
The advice on this page was originally written for a children’s book but it is useful whether you are a child, young person or an adult and shows you that prayer is easier than you might imagine!
God hears every prayer – but not all prayers are answered in the way we might expect or desire: we don’t always pray for his will to be done!
Start by using your hand. Your fingers can be used to bring to mind different things to pray for.
- Thumb – this is the strongest digit on your hand. Give thanks for all the strong things in your life, like home and family, relationships that support and sustain you.
- Index finger – this is the pointing finger. Pray for all those people and things in your life who guide and help you. Friends, teachers, doctors, nurses, emergency services and so on.
- Middle finger – this is the tallest finger. Pray for all the people with power in the world, like world leaders and their governments.
- Ring finger – this is the weakest finger on your hand. It can not do much by itself. Remember the poor, the weak, the helpless, the hungry, the sick, the ill and the bereaved.
- Little finger – this is the smallest and the last finger on your hand. Pray for yourself.
When should I pray?
Traditionally, prayer times have been morning and evening, but you can choose a time which is best for you. It helps to be somewhere quiet, where you can have some time for yourself.
Do I have to kneel?
Kneeling is the traditional posture for penitence (and standing is for praise), but you can pray anywhere – walking, standing, sitting, whatever feels comfortable.
What else do I need to know?
Be creative – use music, a stone, a feather, a flower, or a candle to help you focus – if you are very young, or elderly, be careful with candles!
Prayer activity can be difficult at times, just like keeping fit, being on a diet, or keeping weeds down in the garden! Little and often is best, but don’t give up! No prayer, however inadequate you may feel it to be, is ever wasted or of no value.
Build up a collection of favourite prayers and sayings -anything that speaks to you. You can find them in greeting cards, the media or on prayer cards. You could make a scrapbook for them.
Some books you might find helpful are:
- The Pocket Prayers series – especially Pocket Prayers for Children (also useful for adults first learning to pray) and Pocket Prayers (The Classic Collection) – both by Christopher Herbert and available from Church House Publishing.
- How to Pray: Alone, with others, at any any time, in any place – Stephen Cottrell, Church House Publishing (2010)
- Confirmation Prayer Book – Stephen Lake, SPCK (2002)
- How to Pray: A User’s Guide – John Pritchard, SPCK (2011)
There are many, many more designed to help people like you. Prayer is life-enhancing. Try it!
The above extract by Rt Revd David Stancliffe from Children and Holy Communion – Diana Murrie and Steve Pearce is copyright © Diana Murrie and Steve Pearce and is reproduced by permission of Church House Publishing.