Prayer begins in the heart of God, and it has the power to change the world. This means that prayer is a vital business. However, most Christians, when honest, admit that prayer doesn't always come easily to them, especially at the beginning. It may seem like trying to get to know a stranger. Given the proper time and commitment, our relationship with the Lord of the Universe, as known to us through Jesus Christ, will be closer than any human relationship. God is, as some have said before, as close as your breath. It is our job to help you and your church put prayer first.
Prayer is at the centre of the spiritual life of a Christian. It is connecting and communicating with God. It is the essence of our relationship with God. Prayer is a privilege, not a duty. Like all good things it requires some discipline. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative Services provide many useful prayer resources for corporate prayer in worship services and personal prayer.
However, beyond worship services there are as many ways of praying as there are individuals. Our personalities and life experiences influence how we pray, and there are many different types of Christian prayer.
Meditation is a universal tradition found in all the great religions. As such, it offers an important common ground for inter-religious dialog and a basis for peace in the world. Many Christians have been helped to recover contact with their own tradition of meditation, or contemplative prayer, because of the work of Fr John Main, who is the inspiration of the World Community of Christian Meditation.
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Prayer While Moving
Some people do their best and are most comfortable praying while they are moving. Prayer walking can be a wonderful gift for those who like to get up and move around while intentionally communicating with God. Prayer walking can be done in any location at any time, sometimes alone or with a group. Examples of praying while moving are: prayer labyrinths; praying the Stations of the Cross and pilgrimages.
Praying for Others
Praying for others is often called intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer invites us into God's care and concern for us, our families and friends, and the entire world. No concern is too trivial for God to receive with loving attention. However, intercession is not a means of manipulating heaven into doing our will. Rather it is a way we become aware of god's will for a person or situation and we join with god in that situation. Our desire is to turn our concerns and worries into prayer; to enter God's heart for the world and then pray from there.
Pastoral Care and Prayer
Jesus calls all of us to care for and to be “present” to others. Pastoral care is a ministry of “presence”, based on faith and prayer to provide support and love to those who are in need. Pastoral care is a journey shared in a concerned relationship, and the journey is equally significant in the lives of both travellers and to God. Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for a pastoral visitor to pray with and/or for the person being visited. If there is any doubt the visitor should ask the person they are visiting if they would like the visitor to pray for and/or with them. Using familiar prayers is frequently the most comforting to someone who is in distress.
Healing prayer is perhaps best summarized in the phrase: “Christian healing is Jesus Christ meeting a person at his/her point of greatest need.” Jesus does the healing, not us. Those praying for healing are channels of God’s healing power and love. The “Gift of Healing” is given to those for whom we pray, not to those who do the praying. Christian healing involves the well being of the whole person: body; mind; and spirit. Often spiritual and emotional healing is needed before physical healing can take place. In praying for healing we are praying for wholeness. Jesus said: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” (Matt. 10:7-8).
Music and Prayer
Music plays a part in most people's lives and can be listened to on various levels of our intellect and emotions. Music can be used in our prayer life in various ways. For some, music can be used as an introduction to their prayer time and maybe to round it off. For others, music is prayer. An excellent example being Taizé music with its repeated phrases. There are many musical styles that can be used with prayer and in addition to traditional tunes and words 'secular' and even popular styles as well as specifically 'religious' music are often used. Different types of music can be used for different topics in a prayer session, e.g. thanksgiving, penitence, petition, intercession.
Prayer and Art
Throughout history, Christians have used art as a tool of informing and educating people about the Good News of Jesus and the contents of Scripture, particularly in cultures and circumstances where the general population could not read or write. Art has also been used, most notably by the eastern Church as a tool to connect with God in prayer. This is exemplified in the use of Icons in prayer. Art can also be used as a tool for Christians to express their spirituality and as a form of prayer. Many churches in the diocese are decorated with stained glass windows that add to the ambiance and prayer awareness in the buildings.