As we find ourselves getting busier in every day life, it’s worth finding resources that can be used while doing other things. We’ve found a number of podcasts that we think will enable you to hear all about what prayer is and help you start.
Pray-as-you-go brings together music, a passage of scripture and a few questions for personal reflection in a new 10-13 minute prayer session every day. Produced by the British Jesuits.
Hour of Prayer
The Hour of Prayer helps make daily prayer a new habit or an ongoing blessing. Host Jeff Watter leads a quarter hour of Christian quiet time. The restful pace of this prayer-of-the-day podcast lets God’s message come through.
Preach the word
‘Preach The Word’ is a not-for-profit Christian ministry which exists to provide sound Bible teaching to all. We seek to provide you with challenging Bible-based teaching and preaching, through the ministry of David Legge.
International House of Prayer
The International House of Prayer is an evangelical missions organization that is committed to praying for the release of the fullness of God’s power and purpose, as we actively win the lost, heal the sick, feed the poor, make disciples, and impact every sphere of society
“It starts with a new spirit of prayer, using all the traditions, ancient and modern.
“When it comes, it will be linked to what has gone before, but it will look different – because it is a new renewal for new times.”
The hardest thing about prayer is beginning
So just start.
Wanting to pray is the beginning of a relationship with God that can grow and grow.
Find the way of praying that is right for you.
Explore different ways of praying.
Listen as well as speak.
Give thanks as well as ask for help.
Don’t just look for results. Don’t give up when it gets hard. Trying to pray is praying.
Remember, God is present even in the darkness.
Praying can be woven into everyday life. Prayer is not just something done in church. It is about praying with others, praying alone, at any time and any place. It is living life in a relationship with God.
When we pray, there are millions of Christian people all around the world also praying; daily in churches, in their own homes, in their cars, at work. You might not hear them. You might feel very alone in your prayer; but you are not alone.
There is no such thing as private prayer because when we pray we are caught up in something much bigger than ourselves. There is no “my” prayer. It is, as the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer states, “our”.
The conversation starts here.
It can feel as though the concept of prayer is often something taken lightly in our busy society. We pray that we will make it to the bus stop on time, that we will get that promotion, or that our hair will have sorted itself out before our hot date on Saturday.
The concept of ‘prayer’ is thrown around almost as fleetingly and flippantly as wishing – treated as a ludicrous superstition with no real meaning.
In Church and religion, however, prayer takes on a whole new resonance and meaning. It becomes something special and sacred, and a means for the faithful to communicate directly with God.
The different types of prayer offer different benefits and ways to focus your energy, and working with your Church and congregation provides the chance to explore your faith, as well as the opportunity to celebrate and honor God.
What is prayer according to the Bible?
The Bible sees prayer as speaking with God. Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” As the majority of prayers will start with some form of greeting to God, it seems clear that he is imploring his followers to pray to him when they are in need—to start a conversation which must rely on faith.
Philippians 4:6 also supports this, stating that we should, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” It is clear that as far as the Bible is concerned, engaging in prayer is opening up a line of direct communication with God, and using it to speak to him about your needs and requests.
The Bible is also very clear about the distinction which must be made between prayers and magic. Matthew 6:7-8 clarifies this by saying, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you need of before you ask Him.” This clarification reinforces the notion that prayer is something sacred for Christians, far removed from the supplications of the heathens.
Jesus is also used as a role model for prayer. In Luke 11:1-4, he gives five areas of focus for prayer:
- “Father, hallowed be your name.” – God’s name be honored—the focus on his everlasting glory
- “Thy kingdom come” – God’s kingdom will come if we focus on his eternal will
- “Give us each day our daily bread” – God’s provision must be given, and we must focus on our present
- “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” – Gods forgiveness is granted, and we focus on our past
- That Gods deliverance will be provided to us, and we should focus on our future
What are the four types of prayer?
The Catholic Church divides prayer into four main types: Adoration, Contrition, Petition, and Thanksgiving.
Adoration – praising God
The Gloria is known as the prayer of adoration. When Mass is held on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation, the Gloria will be sing. It is said to recall and represent the singing angels who sang at the birth of Christ.
Contrition – asking God for forgiveness
The Confiteor and Penitential Rite are the prayers of contrition. The Confiteor is Latin for “I confess,” and involves the individual confessing to the sin, before asking the saints and angels to pray on their behalf, in the hope that God will grant forgiveness.
Petition – asking God for a favor
The General Intercessions, or The Prayer of the Faithful, is a prayer of petition. The congregation will request help from God, to care of the people and leaders of the Church, as well as the wider community.
Thanksgiving – showing gratitude to God
The prayer of thanksgiving always comes after Holy Communion. Here, appreciation is shown for all graces given at Mass. Each Mass will also include a profession of faith, and these texts summarise, in a succinct way, everything which is regarded by Catholics as divinely revealed truth. These are usually one of two pieces; the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.
What is the purpose of the prayer?
The idea of prayer may seem as though it revolves around asking God to right your wrongs, to give you the things you desire, or to put right the things in your life you are looking to change, but this is an oversimplified idea of the notion of prayer.
As we have discussed, prayer is about more than asking God for the things you desire, though this is absolutely a part of it, as seen in John 16:24— “Ask and you will receive.” At its heart, however, prayer is much more than this. It is an opportunity for contemplation and meditation, to connect with God in a way which is personal and unique to you, and to ask for repentance and forgiveness.
The conversations you have with God through prayer are not all positive. As we have seen, worshippers may ask for forgiveness and repentance, and to be absolved of the sins they have committed. This act requires a deep self-exploration and reflection, an analysis of one’s thoughts and actions, and an analysis of them which sees them as they truly are.
To undertake the act of asking for forgiveness, we first must admit to ourselves that we have sinned; that our actions have caused harm or distress to others, or that they have gone against the will and wished of God. This forgiveness requires faith and an ability to detach oneself from sin.
Prayer is primarily an opportunity to talk through the incident. By asking for forgiveness, you are admitting you have done wrong, and this can be an excellent opportunity to consider your identity, your lifestyle, and the impacts of the choices you make.
Prayer also helps to strengthen and reinforce your relationship with the Divine, giving you a direct means of communication which places you closer to God. The beauty is that you can pray anytime, anyplace and anywhere—there is no need for fancy clothing or specific rituals. While these trimmings no doubt enhance the experience of prayer and working with your congregation is enriching for support and guidance, the power of prayer means that you can communicate with God whenever the need takes you, and receive the advice, support and guidance which is offered through the practice.
On a surface level, prayer would appear to be superficial and selfish; we talk to God in the hopes that we will receive the things we desire or eliminate the things we are looking to lose. In truth, however, the process is far deeper than that.
A prayer is an active act, which requires intense contemplation, personal analysis, and the chance to right the wrongs which are occurring within your very soul. There is real work which occurs during the act of prayer. By choosing to pray, you are actively choosing to open up the connection with God and to cherish and nourish that connection in its purest and most honest form— a private, genuine conversation.
What are the primary forms of prayer?
In addition to the four types of prayer outlined by Catholics, the Bible lists nine main types of prayer:
- The prayer of faith (James 5:15)
- The prayer of agreement, or ‘corporate’ prayer (Acts 2:42)
- The prayer of request – also known as petition or supplication (Philippians 4:6)
- The prayer of thanksgiving (Psalm 95_2-3)
- The prayer of worship (Acts 13:2-3)
- The prayer of consecration – also known as dedication (Matthew 26:39)
- The prayer of intercession (Timothy 2:1)
- The prayer of imprecation (Psalms 69)
- Praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)
As you can see, there is more than simply praying involved. Your purpose for prayer is important, as there are different techniques and chants you can use to help you feel closer and more connected to God and your purpose.
What is the importance of prayer?
Within the Christian faith, it is difficult to deny that prayer is one of the most important actions a person can undertake in both their religion and their life. As it states in Luke 11:5-13 and Luke 18:1-8, “everyone who asks receives.” This quote suggests that prayer gives you the power to change not only your world but that of the wider community.
If you pray for more life, you will receive more life. If you pray for peace and tolerance, these are the qualities you will find reflected within your surroundings. The Bible also tells us that, “You do not have because you do not ask,” (James 4:2). The text itself is extolling the virtues of prayer, and the power it can bring in transforming your life for the better through open and honest communication with God.
Prayer is also essential for demonstrating your faith to God. It allows him to help you even when you are unsure of the assistance you need. Romans 8:26-27 tells us that, “Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.
For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saint according to the will of God.”
Even in your darkest hours, when you are confused, lost, or uncertain about the next step you should take, God will give you what you need and deserve, even if you are not yet convinced. It is a demonstration of faith and a way of demonstrating this to God.
Within the Church and the wider Christian community, prayer is far more than merely a fanciful wish. It is a sacred, holy act of communication between the faithful and God, and a way of asking for advice, guidance, and support when life becomes overwhelming and confusing. It is also a way to honor and celebrate God, to sing His praises and express thanks for the gifts he has provided humanity.
In addition, prayer can work as a means of repentance and forgiveness, a chance to examine your thoughts and actions and take steps to make sure you are always living your life to praise God and feel his love. Prayer is a miracle—a way to communicate directly with the Divine, and receive his word directly to you in response.
Thank you to our Film Stars
Emma is 24 years old and for the first time in her life, feels she has something to live for. With a new partner, the lovely Danny, they share a flat together and are making plans. Drugs, alcohol, and self-harming have all played their part in her young life so far. She had a chaotic family upbringing and developed her own drug habit and started to self-harm in response to an unhappy and often violent previous relationship. But her darkest time was last year when she lost a baby and she still suffers pangs of hopelessness now where she questions her faith and God, but without her faith, and the family she has found at the Saturday Gathering, she firmly believes she wouldn’t be here.
“I wouldn’t have done any of this if it wasn’t for God. I wouldn’t have got close to my family again, I wouldn’t have found the perfect partner, I wouldn’t have got the perfect home, I wouldn’t even be me. I’d be a completely different person. Without God, I’d still be drinking alcohol, I’d probably still be on drugs, I don’t even know if I’d be here, because I was a self harmer.”
Rob has lived on the streets or on his wits since a young boy. In and out of reform homes, his parents couldn’t cope with his behaviour and he was kicked out of home at 15. When his older brother took his own life a few years later, Rob went completely out of control. He has lived in woods, on streets, under car parks, behind shopping centres -and drugs have been the mainstay of his survival. He found himself on the streets of Halifax after a failed relationship and intrigued by an open church on a Saturday, he walked into the Ebenezer Methodist church – and the rest as they say, is history. He came to faith at the Saturday Gathering and has slowly been lebuilding his life. And after years of being estranged from his family, he celebrated his 46th birthday in January with his mother at the Saturday Gathering Place.
“I’ve always believed in resurrection, but my mind was clouded through drugs and when I started being clear headed, I thought wow, he’s done it to me. I haven’t died but I feel like I’ve been resurrected away from a life of crime and trouble to peace and love, understanding, calmness.”
Brenda was the local white witch, heavily into the Wicca movement and its alignment with nature, conservation and the environment. But when her mother cheated death over two years ago, it was a wake up call to all the family that there was something bigger out there. Her mother died last year in difficult circumstances and all the family began to volunteer at the Night Shelter run by Christians Together in Calderdale as a way of coming to terms with the enormity of her death. It was while volunteering one Saturday night, that Brenda – a mother of four herself – dropped into the worship and found herself overwhelmed by the love and acceptance. Brenda is now training to be a leader herself and wants to be ordained into the Church of England.
“I can’t actually remember what I was like before I found my faith. I just can’t imagine going back to life with out God in it. It’s quite a scary thought.”
Howard struggles with his faith. The 40 year old from Bradford came to faith eight years ago. A former addict who was in and out of prison, he was offered a place in a Christian rehab centre for young men and it was here, as he struggled with the sleeplessness and restlessness as he was withdrawing from heroin and methadone, that he began to join in the early morning prayers. It was to be his solace. But for Howard, temptation is never far away and on the day of his baptism, he used drugs again – after eight months clean. His story of faith is a constant tug of war with real bouts of doubt that can stop him praying, stop him praising and thanking God. He has been out of prison now for over 12 months and offers support to others at the Saturday Gathering and wants to be a good role model for his teenage son.
“When I start doubting, it quickly isolates me, …Faith for me is like a tug of war– it’s one minute walking in faith and the next minute there’s a black cloud over you.”
“Where would I be without faith? I’d be dead a long time ago. Yeah, I’d be dead.”
Here are some simple prayers to help get you started. Read the words, think about what you are saying & adapt them to suit your circumstances.
Some first prayers to have to hand
The Lord’s Prayer (traditional)
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name;
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done;
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
Forever and ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer (modern – currently used in the Church of England)
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
Now and forever. Amen.
The Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Prayer of St Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow peace,
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon,
Where there is doubt, let me sow faith,
Where there is despair, let me give hope,
Where there is darkness, let me give light,
Where there is sadness, let me give joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not try to be comforted, but comfort,
Not try to be understood but to understand,
Not try to be loved but to love.
Because it is in the giving that we receive
It is in the forgiving that we are forgiven
And it is in the dying that we are born to eternal life.
Prayer of preparation
To whom all hearts are open,
All desires known,
And from whom no secrets are hidden:
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
By the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
That we may perfectly love you,
And worthily magnify your holy name;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Grace – this can be used at the end of prayer.
The Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all now and for evermore. Amen.
The Jesus Prayer:
‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
Prayer ideas to fit in with your daily life
O Lord, enable us this day to reveal your glory in all we think and say and do; that your presence may bless and strengthen us all the day long, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Lord, the smile of the dawn lights up the sky.
May the smile of your face, light up our day. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God,
We thank you that you have brought us safely to the beginning of this day.
Keep us from falling into sin or running into danger,
Order us in all our doings
And guide us to do always what is righteous in your sight;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jesus, be close to me and those I love through the twists and turns of today and be with me at the day’s end. Amen.
Travelling/On a journey
May our Lord Jesus Christ go before us to guide us;
Stand behind us to give us strength;
And watch over us to protect us as we travel. Amen.
In the name of God I go on this journey. May God the Father be with me, God the Son protect me, and God the Holy Ghost be by my side. Amen.
Lord, be our guide and our protector
on the journey we are about to take.
Watch over us.
Protect us from accidents.
Keep us free from harm to body and soul.
Lord, support us with your grace when we are tired.
Help us be patient in any trouble which may come our way.
Keep us always mindful of your presence and love. Amen.
Dear Saint Christopher,
protect me today
in all my travels
along the road’s way.
Give your warning sign
if danger is near
so that I may stop
while the path is clear.
Be at my window
and direct me through
when the vision blurs
From out of the blue.
Carry me safely
to my destined place,
like you carried Christ
in your close embrace.
For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.
O Lord, bless this food to our use and ourselves to your service and keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. Amen.
In a world where so many are hungry, we give thank you for food. In a world were so many are lonely, we thank you for each other. Amen.
At the end of the day
Save us, O Lord, while waking and guard us while sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and when we sleep, we may rest in peace. Amen.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
Watch and guard me through the night,
and wake me with the morning light.
Here you will find various aids to help you start praying or to lead you into a deeper, more regular prayer life. Whether it be apps, podcasts, videos or just praying the important thing is to start.
The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer shows us what prayer is all about, it sums up faith, it gives us a definition for prayer which is about a relationship with God and gives us a pattern for our praying.
Our Father… we come into a relationship with God, we need God.
Hallowed be your name… we give God our thanks and praise
Your kingdom come, your will be done… we seek God’s will
Give us today our daily bread… we ask for all that we need
Forgive us our sins… we ask to be forgiven and be forgiving
Lead us not into temptation… we ask for strength to resist
Amen… so be it
Listen as well as speak. Give thanks as well as ask for help
Prayer fast forwards us to God. It puts God at the centre of our lives. It allows us to unwind, to listen, to be heard. It allows us to start a conversation. We can be forgiven for the things that have gone wrong. We can always start again with God.
Don’t look for results. Don’t give up when it gets hard.
Everyone finds it hard to make sense of the terrible suffering in the world and still believe in a loving God who hears our prayers. But the Christian faith shows us a God, who,in Jesus shares our life and on the cross suffers with us. God is love sharing our life; God is eternal life, showing us a life beyond this one.
Trying to pray is praying.
Make it a regular daily practice. Use your times of prayer to make your life prayerful. Put God at the centre of your life. Keep it simple and focused. Just start and take this crucial first step in seeing faith as part of your day to day lived reality, something as natural as breathing, as refreshing as water from the spring, as transformative as love.
And remember, God is present even in the darkness.
Farmer, James, manages six hundred acres of farmland in Hampshire that was, in all likelihood, bequeathed to the Church around AD 650 by a Saxon King who converted to Christianity. He is the fourth generation of his family working the farm. He is a committed Christian and prays as often as his cattle and sheep allow.
We found our two refugees at Borderlands Bristol, a registered charity working especially with people seeking asylum in the UK or those who have become refugees from other countries. The centre offers hot meals, wellbeing and practical support for people of all faiths and none and strives to be a place of peace and calm for people who have often experience traumatic life experiences.
Tough Talk is a registered charity dedicated to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who would not normally go to church. It is made up of a group of ex-bouncers, ex-football hooligans and ex-East End hard men who have turned their backs on their past. Many of the team are keen powerlifters. Founder Ian, who features in our film, began working as a nightclub bouncer at the age of 18. He travels with the team sharing his faith in Jesus Christ and the love of God.
St Mary’s Church Primary School in Kilburn is a popular school situated in the heart of London, with all the opportunities and challenges that face people living and working in one of the major capitals of the world. It is one of 4,700 church schools which educate around one million young people. They are a vital part of the ministry of the church and provide inclusive education with a Christian ethos.
The baptism is part of the Saturday Gathering story. This Fresh Expressions of church grew out of the Halifax Food and Support Drop-In run by Christians Together in Calderdale which has been providing food and toiletries parcels and prayer to the most vulnerable for six years. It has just celebrated its third birthday and in that time has baptised over 80 new disciples.
Our festival goer is theology student Pollyanna. She is in her third year studying at university where she loves to explore the role of Christianity in today’s world. Her own faith leads her to attempt to live her life showing as much love, compassion and grace to others, as she can.
Commuter, Jonny, is married to Amy and has four children under 5. He is currently training to be a Priest at St. Mellitus, an Anglican training college in central London, where he enjoys thinking and talking about (and to) God. He also has a deep love for Manchester City Football Club.
Kameo and Enrico tied the knot in the beautiful St Stephen’s Church, Lindley, Huddersfield in October and invited us to their special day. It was just one of 1,000 weddings conducted in the Church of England every week. Marriage vows, in the form “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part”, have been recited at UK church weddings since 1552.
Sgt Brian is a branch leader of the Christian Police Association for the Cleveland Police where he serves. The CPA has been serving those in the police service for over 130 years and continue to seek to be active and relevant in that role. Its members believe that by maintaining a strong relationship with God they can overcome temptation and having fellowship with other doing the same job is a means to that end.
Leeds Street Angels help to make the city centre a safer place to be on a night out. They are part of the wider Christian Nightlife Initiative – amazing teams of volunteers who combine prayer with action in night-time communities – prayer that comes in the shape of flip-flops, lollipops, bottles of water and teams of people with a mission to love the person in front of them.
Out of Many One Voice is the mission statement of the London Gospel Community Choir. Led by the Revd Bazil, they are committed to encourage unity, love and respect among all people through the arts and their faith in God with a packed programme of events which this year saw their members on the X Factor and in Trafalgar Square for Royal British Legion Silence in the Square event.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. He was enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral in March 2013.His threepriority areas for his ministry include prayer and the religious life, reconciliation and evangelism and witness.
The Community of St Anselm is made up of 36 young men and women from across the UK and around the world. They have become the first members of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new monastic-inspired community at Lambeth Palace – a programme for Christians aged 20-35 to spend a year praying, studying ethics and theology, and serving the poorest in local communities.
Our mourner, Sam lost his father earlier this year. Martin Cavender was a leading Church of England evangelist. Sam works for the church in Bristol and is a self confessed graphics geek.