Much of the prayer of the Church of England is corporate, that
is to say we do it together and this is reflected in much of what
you will say when you recite Morning Prayer or Evening
Prayer. Yet there is another side to our prayer life, our own
individual prayers, as we try to share in Christ's prayer to his
Father, that his will be done, his kingdom come.
The advice we provide here was originally written for a
children's book. However, whether you are a child, young person or
an adult, prayer is easier than you might imagine! Millions of
people of every age pray every day.
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.
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
can be offered to God anywhere, at any time.
But thankfully we don't live all our lives in moments of extreme
crisis. What about day-to-day praying? We need to come closer to
God, to experience His love for us and to try to make sense of
where we are in the world. Prayer is the way we do this.
How to start?
Use your hand.
Your fingers can be used to bring to mind different things to pray
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.
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.
this is the tallest finger. Pray for all the important people who
have power in the world, like world leaders and their governments,
members of parliament and local councillors, the Royal Family,
other world leaders and their governments.
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.
this is the smallest and the last finger on your hand. Pray for
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
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 is a discipline - it 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
Build up a collection of favourite prayers and sayings -anything
that speaks to you. You can find them in greeting cards, cuttings
in the press or bookmarks and prayer cards. You could make a
scrapbook for them.
Here are some books you might find helpful.
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)
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