The Apostle Paul wrote that we should,
‘Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests’(Ephesians 6:18)
Sometimes it’s hard to know how to do that. I can find myself facing a particular situation and realising that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t know how God feels about it. I don’t know what outcome to ask for. I lack the words. I lack the energy. I lack the emotional strength. I lack the creativity.
In these moments there are three main things that help me:
- The Prayers of the Spirit
To pray in the Spirit means to draw strength and energy from God Himself. Knowing that the Spirit is praying for me and through me is a deep encouragement. Allowing him to inspire words within me – in English, in heavenly languages, and in groans – is a precious thing when I don’t know how to pray. (Romans 8:26-27; 1 Corinthians 14)
- The Prayers of the Saints
There are, according to Paul, all kinds of prayers, and sometimes I benefit from drawing on prayers outside my own mind and outside my own tradition. Hearing or reading how other people pray can really help me, since it gives voice to things I can’t articulate myself. I will often read books on prayer, or ancient prayers, or social media prayers by people who are more eloquent than I.
- The Prayers of my Friends
Prayer doesn’t have to be done alone. In fact, I often find that it’s best when it isn’t. I know I pray better when I am with other people. Knowing that there are others who are praying with me and for me is a huge source of encouragement, and I benefit from the shared experience. My friends hold up my arms when I’m tired, bear my burdens as I bear theirs, and share in my mourning and rejoicing (Exodus 17:8-16; Galatians 6:2; Romans 12:15)
One of the recent projects at Christ Church London which I’ve enjoyed has been to create a ‘library of liturgies’ to help people pray through different situations and seasons. It’s incomplete, and I hope there will be more to come, but it’s a start. And it’s an attempt to draw together these three strands, making space for the Spirit to speak; providing set prayers to pray along with, and encouraging people to share them with friends, so that prayer can become a communal experience.
Each one leads you through a process of reading passages of Scripture, thinking about how they apply to you, speaking out a prayer, and sharing with others what God is saying to you.
You can find them all at christchurchlondon.org/prayer along with a few other prayer resources. So far the prayers we’ve created include:
- A prayer to start a new week
- A prayer for sabbath
- A prayer for anxious hearts
- A prayer for our aching world
- A prayer for courage to share the gospel
- A prayer for a season of tears
- A prayer against injustice
- A prayer for creation
- A prayer for your work
- A prayer for when you feel fragile
- A prayer for unity
- A prayer of gratitude
- A prayer for revival
- A prayer for a painful anniversary
- A prayer for when you’re tired of praying
- A prayer against war and conflict
I hope you find them helpful. If you use them, I’d love to hear how you get on with them. And if there are particular themes or situations you would like us to include in the next batch of prayers, let me know.