Guy Williams is Experimenting with Prayer Beads in his most recent post. Looking for new ways to enhance his prayer life in the midst of a hectic pastor’s schedule, Guy has begun to consider the following idea:
Here’s the idea: A bracelet (you know, church camp style…) with a bead for each prayer or Scripture or type/element of prayer to engage in. I listed stuff I wanted beads for and narrowed it down to fifteen beads. I have discovered that I am helped by prescribed elements and prompts for spontaneous prayer. The mixture is important. And having a prescribed element, like Psalm 23 or the Lord’s Prayer, gives me something I can pray through slowly or simply recite depending on where I am each day. Prescribed elements help center me, focus my mind and heart, and allow me the freedom to offer the spontaneous prayers of the day/hour.
He goes on to list the 5 categories (centering, grounding, asking, calling, sending) and the 15 specific prayers (Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23, Jesus Prayer, etc.) that he’ll use as part of this. It’s worth taking a look at if you get the chance.
For my part, I think it’s a great idea. Certainly, each of us could use something in our lives to help us be more consistent in when and how we pray.
As I talk with my lay people, I often find that they struggle with prayer mostly because they don’t know exactly what to pray. And, as a pastor, I wrestle with this problem from time to time as well. What do you pray when you don’t have the words? Is prayer only about what I have to say? Or can I just sit and listen? How do you structure that in a meaningful way?
I find Guy’s approach refreshing. He borrows the structural elements of the best of Christian tradition, yet adapts it in a way that fits his personality.
In my own life, one of the things I’ve found that works for me is praying through the Fruit of the Spirit. Somehow, that speaks to me. God challenges me to be more loving, joyful, and peaceful as I pray for God to fill me with those things.
What about you? How do you keep your prayer life on track? What mix of structure and freedom do you use to keep your prayer life fresh and meaningful?