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Prayer Exercises

These exercises are a great way to grow your personal prayer life. It may be helpful to commit to one exercise for a set amount of time during your abiding (e.g. 10 minutes). It may also help to commit to an exercise for a set number of days until it becomes routine (e.g. I will engage for 10 minutes over the next 30 days). Start small and add time or exercises as you grow more comfortable in prayer.

Daily prayer offices: this follows a set of guided prayers that force you to slow down and pray during various times of the day (typically morning, noon, and night, although some add times in-between). A great place to start is either with the Book of Common Prayer or this guide from Pete Scazzero

Praying the Lord’s Prayer: this exercise, derived from Martin Luther, takes the Lord’s prayer (Mt. 6:9-13) and works line by line, using the prayer as an outline for personal prayer. Take the prayer one phrase at a time and pray into that phrase in your own words (e.g. “Our father” … spend time praying about how God is our Father. What makes him a Father to you? How have you experienced his Fatherly love? Do you have trouble with the term “father?”) Spend a few minutes praying into “Our Father,” then move on to “in heaven.” Keep going until you’ve prayed the whole prayer in your own words.


Praying the Jesus Prayer: this exercise forces you to slow down. Simply pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me (a sinner).” Some versions of the prayer include “a sinner,” and some don’t…the choice is up to you. Repeat this prayer in your mind or verbally for a set number of time (start with 5-10 minutes). It may be helpful to incorporate breathing into this exercise: as you breathe in, pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.” Pray “have mercy on me, a sinner,” as you breathe out. Focus on slowing your breathing until you are centered on Him and distraction-free. As you continue to pray the prayer, begin to think on the meaning of the words. Take it word by word. Lord…what does Jesus’ lordship mean? How is Jesus the Lord of your life? Continue word by word, meditating on the simple, yet deep truth of the words you are praying.


Praying Scripture: This is self-explanatory…take a section of Scripture and pray it out! As you pray, meditate on the words you are speaking. If something stands out, stay there for a moment and pray into it. A great place to start are the Psalms, but feel free to choose any Scripture you are connecting with personally right now. Some of my personal favorites are Psalm 23, Psalm 63, Exodus 15, Psalm 100, John 17:20-26 (as Jesus speaking over me).


Writing out your prayers: Journaling is proven to have many benefits; in fact, multiple studies prove that you retain more when you take time to write something out on paper (a quick read on that). You are engaging not only your mind, but your body as you intentionally write out your prayers to the Lord. Journaling your prayers may help you to focus better during your time with God as well as slow down. Writing word-by-word, you will be able to articulate your heart in a way that can be easily missed when rushing through a verbal prayer. 


The A.C.T.S. Prayer: this prayer format goes through four key themes: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Spend 5-10 minutes in each theme and focus on slowing down so that you can be led by the Holy Spirit as you pray (more info here)

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