Gather to pray for our New Hope Hillside community Sunday mornings 9:30-9:50 am in the cafe. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20
There are many ways to pray – this page describes some ways that Christians have prayed through the ages and provides links to online resources.
Praying the Offices or Liturgy of the Hours
Rooted in the Benedictine tradition praying the offices is a structured way to pray in community. Usually consisting of morning prayer, noon prayer, evening prayer, and compline (just before bed), this is a way of praying with scripture and song in community with many Christians who pray the same prayers at the same time. This community can be experienced in a ‘spiritual’ sense in that we do not need to be together physically to pray together.
Praying primarily with gospel passages from scripture, this way of praying engages our imagination and focuses on our relationship with Jesus. We encounter the living God in the living Word of the Bible through placing ourselves in the stories of Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our thoughts and surface our feelings about who Jesus is, who we are and how we relate to Him.
Spiritual Reading or Lectio Divina
This way of praying engages us with the Scriptures in a way that allows the Word of God to speak to our hearts. Usually praying with small portions of Scripture we meditate on the words or phrases that catch our attention. We stay with the word or phrase as long as it holds meaning for us and explore with God and Jesus what the meaning is. We allow the word to become part of us.
Breath Prayers and the Jesus Prayer
Repeating a prayer in rhythm with our breathing is a way of praying that is founded on the exhortation in I Thessalonians 5:17 “to pray continually”. Usually a breath prayer is a short phrase that expresses what we most need or desire in our relationship with God. Often a phrase based on scripture is used, such as the Jesus prayer, “Lord, have mercy” (from Luke 18:13). A breath prayer may also be a phrase that we find in another source or within ourselves that expresses our need. Usually it is comprised of an address to God and a petition or desire.
Contemplation is the act of dwelling on a thought, word, feeling, or image and letting it become a part of us. It is an active prayer in that it requires discipline to focus our mind and heart on what is being contemplated, but it is often a prayer that transcends words. What is dwelt on may be an image, feeling or sense of presence rather than a thought or word.
It is only in the last couple of centuries that we have read scripture silently and in private. For most of the history of the church the Bible has been read and prayed communally and orally.