Prayer: what is it?
Prayer is at the centre of everything we do and is the way in which we communicate with God; it’s two-way communication. Prayer can be done out loud or in your head; God will hear both. It can be as formal or informal as you like. You can do it alone, as a small group or as part of a larger congregation. Many of us pray throughout the day as we go about our daily business. Prayer is as much about listening to God as it is about talking to God – both are fundamentally important to our Christian lives. If you would like to find out more about different ways of praying, have a look in our Prayer Toolbox.
We have a network of people who pray for requests: send an email to the Church Office if you’d like to be someone who prays or would like to request prayer. You can also ask for a prayer request to be put into In Touch.
If you would like guidance on daily prayer, have a look at our Benefice Prayer Diary or in our Prayer Toolbox, below.
There are many different ways of praying and lots of resources to help your prayer life. Our prayer toolbox contains some suggestions. Many of these suggestions come via the 24-7 prayer movement, which is ‘an international, interdenominational movement of prayer, mission and justice; a non-stop prayer meeting that has continued for every minute of this century so far, in over half the countries on Earth.’
Prayer Toolbox: Starting to pray
Click the links to access the resources: most links are to 24-7 prayer
Guidance on how to have a quiet time with God.
It takes practice to be more aware of God – and so communicate with him – in our daily lives. Here’s some help with doing this.
This is an app for your phone which is a daily resource for praying. There are Morning Prayers, Night Prayers and short courses.
It’s really useful to have your own prayer list which you keep current and relevant for you. Here are some ideas on how to do this.
Walking around our town/village and praying for our communities can be such a good thing to do.
In addition, you can do a prayer walk around your house to help guide your prayer: Home prayer walk
Praying doesn’t have to be done in words alone. A prayer can be an action, or an action can give us the words we’re seeking. Some people work more by vision or action than by thinking in words. It can be difficult to think of other ways to pray so this introduction may help you. Here are some ideas for creative prayer:
Ripples of water
Put some water in a bowl and drop in a stone. Imagine that you’re the stone and the ripples represent people around you: those ripples close to the stone are those closest to you – your close friends and family; those in the next layer are the work colleagues you see daily or friends and family to whom you’re not so close; these go all the way out to the final ripple which represents everyone in the world who needs our prayers.
Colouring scriptural pictures
As you colour, pray about the scripture you’re colouring: talk to God about what it means to you and listen to what he is saying to you.
Praying your hand
Each finger and thumb gives you pointers for which to pray:
Closest to you
Pray for those closest to us (family and friends)
Points the way
Pray for wisdom, guidance and support for those who guide us and point the way: church, schools, people who mentor us, Police, etc.
Tallest: leads the way
Pray for wisdom, guidance and support for those who lead us: King Government, local and county councils, etc.
Pray that those who are vulnerable will have what they need: children, vulnerable adults, the poor, those who are sick, etc.
Pray for ourselves and our needs
Make a paperchain of people. Write the name of a person for whom you’d like to pray on each one; you could also write a prayer for each one. Keep your paperchain where you can see it, to remind you to pray
Use a piece of elastic thread and some craft beads. Each bead you use will represent a person or a situation for which you’d like to pray. Wear your prayer bracelet to remind you to pray about your chosen people or topics. When you’re not doing something, you can pray through your bracelet, wherever you are.
Find a picture or pattern to colour: as you colour it, talk to God – and listen! – about what comes into your mind.
Other ways to pray
Click the links to access the resources: all links are to 24-7 prayer resources
The Examen is a four-step way of praying using: Replay, Rejoice, Repent, Reboot as a framework for daily prayer
Lection Divina means Divine Word – it’s a way of praying using scripture
This is a way of praying when we feel pain: it’s about bringing our grief to God
Fasting can bring us closer to God through prayer
Journals can help us keep track of prayers – and their answers! Some people find it useful to divide their daily prayer book page into quarters:
A = Adoration – praising God for who he is
C = Confession – saying sorry for what we’ve done wrong
T = Thanksgiving – Thanking God
S = Supplication – bringing our needs to God
This is far more challenging than it first sounds! Follow the link to see how best to try it
Prayer Toolbox: Praying as a family
Praying with children
There are lots of ideas for how to involve children in prayer. See our booklet for some suggestions.
Praying as a teen
There are not many teenagers who want to engage in prayer without some structure. See our booklet for some ideas for them. These ideas can be done by teens on their own or as part of a family time.
Lectio for families
Lectio for families is a free app, available on Android or Apple, which provides a structure for families to pray together. It is aimed for families with children aged between seven and eleven and lasts for five to ten minutes. There is a weekly memory verse and daily Bible readings (which you can read or play an audio version), followed by questions to think about and discuss as a family and some ideas for prayer. There is a simple structure:
P Pausing to be still
R Rejoicing in and reflecting on God speaking through the scriptures
A Asking God for what we need
Y Yes: saying, ‘Yes’ to God’s ways
This is a great resource from 24-7 prayer on how to make prayer part of your parenting life.
Prayer Toolbox: Praying using the Bible
Click the links to access the resources, which are from 24-7 prayer
Ideas on how to spend time dwelling on what the Lord’s Prayer actually means.
There are 150 Psalms and each one helps us to worship God. The Psalmist experiences - and talks to God about - the emotions which we experience.
Being aware of God’s promises and using them to pray about our needs is a powerful tool in our toolboxes.
Being aware of our sinfulness and asking for forgiveness is powerful in setting us free from our sin.
Prayer Toolbox: Other ways of praying
The Benefice has a Prayer Hub. This meets at Shipham Church on the second Saturday of the month, at 1000 for an hour. At the Prayer Hub, we sit in a circle and either pray out loud or silently. There is no pressure on anyone to pray out loud. There is usually a theme or guidance on what our prayer priorities are, to help you.
This group is a contemplative prayer group which uses a format similar to that in the Silent Prayer section, above. It is based on the teachings of the Desert Fathers from circa 200AD and we use an ancient Christian prayer-word maranatha, 'Come, Lord Jesus'. This faith based practice is described simply at https://wccm.org/meditate/how-to-meditate/ and, like many forms of prayer, it helps to learn it with others. The group meets weekly, on Monday afternoons and on Wednesday evenings. Wednesday evening meetings take place in Axbridge Church or Church Rooms. See more about the group, on their page, here.
The Benefice has a Prayer Chain. This is a group of people who are contacted by the Co-ordinator via email with urgent prayer requests. If you would like to be part of this prayer chain or have a request for it, please contact Pam Williams.
We also have a Prayer Diary, which you can get here: this gives us a daily prayer guide across a month, using the following categories: people, local organisations and businesses, Christian concerns, national organisations and businesses, and those who live or work in roads across the benefice.
Included in In Touch, the Benefice weekly newsletter, are the same prayer categories, along with any current concerns for which we need or want to pray.
Immediately after the service at Shipham at 1000 on the 4th Sunday of the month, there is Prayer for Healing, where members of the congregation can come for prayer around specific needs or situations where healing is needed (not necessarily limited to the health kind!).
Also at Shipham Church, there is a well-used Prayer Wall where people can post their prayer requests. Anyone can post a request and it will be included in prayers.
Page updated by HJF 19 January 2024