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Harnessing the Power of Prayer

September 8, 2010


Stained Glass at Emerson Congregational UCC

This window is at the back of the sanctuary. I recall many a Sunday morning sitting in the choir loft imagining the image to be a rocky shore on the Scottish coast.

The church I attend – Emerson Congregational UCC – has begun a philosophy discussion after service. It’s a small group of us trying to navigate our way through a sometimes frustrating world. We recently wound up talking about prayer and the scribe in me had to take notes.

We often hear about the power of prayer, the benefits of taking time daily (or throughout the day) to pray. Just like any habit – it takes time and patience to find a method of prayer that suits your personality and life. Here are some suggestions to help you establish and incorporate prayer as part of your daily life.
Prayer and Gratitude Journal –
Designate a notebook/journal and writing instrument for the special purpose of capturing prayer needs and thoughts of gratitude. Typically one might make note of specific prayer requests (e.g., praying for good outcomes for a friend undergoing a medical procedure, etc.), general prayers, thoughts and observations. Some people elect to use facing pages in the book, putting prayer requests on one side and noting areas of thankfulness on the other.
Suggested resources:
http://www.squidoo.com/personalized-prayer-journal
http://hubpages.com/hub/How-To-Make-A-Prayer-Journal
http://www.ehow.com/how_4697139_keep-prayer-journal.html
Devotional readings –
There are many sources to obtain devotional material that can help to guide and inspire daily living. Some websites e-mail a daily verse or thought to be contemplated and prayed over. Other websites offer access to random prayers and thoughts to provide insight and inspiration.
Suggested resources:
http://www.ucc.org/feed-your-spirit/daily-devotional/
http://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/
Individual Bible Study –
Some Christians establish reading the Bible in a year as a goal. There are websites that support this activity by providing daily reading plans to help keep participants on track. Another suggestion is to select a book of the Bible (or books) that are particularly appealing. Many people start with Proverbs – using the “a chapter a day” approach.
Suggested resources:
http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/
http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/readingplans/
Prayer Traditions/Themes –
The Roman Catholics are known for the Rosary – which incorporates the Lord’s Prayer, Doxology, a prayer to Mary as the Mother of Jesus and various Bible verses arranged in “themes”  or what are referred to as Mysteries. The mysteries  – joyful, sorrowful, luminous, and glorious – reflect various events in Jesus life and have application to daily life as well. For example; a Joyful mystery – the visitation – commemorates Mary and Elizabeth spending time together before the births of Jesus and John the Baptist. The Fruit of the Mystery – or application – is the love of one’s neighbor.
Some informal communities establish prayer days, in which the community devotes a portion of their prayer time to consider the needs or concerns of the community itself and the members. For example, an online ministry supporting addiction recovery has established Wednesday as the day to pray for protection or hedges around technology – acknowledging that technology can do a great deal to connect people, but that when misused addictions to online games, amusements and simply being “continually plugged in” detracts from human interactions.
For those who might feel more adventurous, or wish to be led by the Spirit, a website called World Prayers features an electronic  prayer wheel to be “spun” resulting in a prayer that may help guide the reflective and meditative time.
Suggested resources:
http://www.worldprayers.org/
Prayer can serve as a powerful tool in many aspects of one’s life – providing an opportunity to establish a good mindset for the day, to reflect and express gratitude for the good things that happen in one’s life, to connect and support people and communities around us. Like any habit, it takes time to establish, but the results can be life changing.
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