Understanding God In Prayer ("We Believe" Resources)
We Believe: Back To Basics - A series about our common faith. | Week 2 resources.
Learn what it means that we can meet the one unique God, who is Father, Son, & Holy Spirit, in prayer.
“O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” -Psalm 143:1 (NIV)
For a printable [.PDF] version of the Prayer Resources to follow, download below:
Click the arrow to expand and see more information on each resource.
Just like that, you did it! You can do the same whenever you see the “>” symbol.
Prayer is something like a heartbeat of the Christian life. Scripture tells believers to “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6b, NIV).
But, many Christians confess they find it difficult to pray. Or the sorts of prayers they do pray are short, anxious, and leave little time to listen. Perhaps they’re in the car on the way to an appointment or in the shower – life simply feels too busy.
It’s true we’ll never have a perfect time to pray. Distractions are inevitable. And yet, it is possible to make prayer a part of our lives and even to (as Scripture says): “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).
There are many different ways to pray. Because we hope to be a praying church, we hope to equip all our members to pray individually, as families, and as a church body.
Whether you have prayed for years, are new to prayer, we wanted to provide you with resources to help you along the way.
Book Recommendations & Descriptions
While no resource is perfect, these are generally helpful and recent books that may aid you in prayer. Some are meditations on prayer. Others are guides to prayer. Some are even written prayers you can pray yourself. These resources come from a diversity of contemporary Christian traditions and denominations. Expand to see the publisher's description. You can find podcasts / interviews, and other resources with the author about the subject in the last section (linked, put at the end because it takes up quite a bit of room). These may give you insights about the book to help you decide if it may be a resource helpful to your prayer life.
Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep by Tish Harrison Warren.
Publisher: InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. 2022.
How can we trust God in the dark?
Framed around a nighttime prayer of Compline, Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary, explores themes of human vulnerability, suffering, and God's seeming absence. When she navigated a time of doubt and loss, the prayer was grounding for her. She writes that practices of prayer "gave words to my anxiety and grief and allowed me to reencounter the doctrines of the church not as tidy little antidotes for pain, but as a light in darkness, as good news."
Where do we find comfort when we lie awake worrying or weeping in the night? This book offers a prayerful and frank approach to the difficulties in our ordinary lives at work, at home, and in a world filled with uncertainty.
Hearing God Throughout the Year: A 365-Day Devotional by Dallas Willard (edited by Jan Johnson).
Publisher: IVP, Downers Grove, IL. 2015.
Being close to God means communicating with him—telling him what is on our hearts in prayer and understanding what he is saying to us. The second half of this conversation is so important—and so difficult. How do we hear God? In these daily devotionals Dallas Willard helps us understand how we can know the voice of God and act on it. Now in a new format with an expanded introduction, this classic provides daily Scripture readings and suggestions for prayer, journaling and reflection to draw you into God?s presence. You may be surprised—and even transformed—by what you discover.
Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer by Eugene Peterson.
Publisher: HarperOne Press, San Francisco, CA. 1991.
Eugene H. Peterson speaks to Christians who realize the necessity for prayer and yearn for it but who find their prayer unconvincing and unsatisfying. Addressing the causes of this dissatisfaction, Answering God offers guidelines for using the Psalms as dynamic tools for prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide to Praying to Our Father by Wesley Hill.
Publisher: Lexham Press, Bellingham, WA. 2019.
Do You Believe? You pray it. But do you understand it? The Lord’s Prayer has become so familiar to us that we don’t think about what we’re praying. It’s a portrait of Jesus’ heart. And in it Christians from different times, places, and traditions have been united. We pray it, but do we actually believe it? When Jesus taught his followers how to pray, he emphasized how uncomplicated it should be. There’s no need for pretense or theatrics. Instead, simply ask for what you need as though you were speaking with your earthly father. This opens a window into Jesus’ prayer life and presents us with a portrait of his heart for his followers. Wesley Hill re-introduces the Lord’s Prayer. He shows us a God who is delighted to hear prayer. Petition by petition, in conversation with the Christian tradition, he draws out the significance of Jesus’ words for prayer today.
Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship by Jonathan Gibson.
Publisher: Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2021.
Every Christian knows the importance of a daily quiet time with the Lord. But anyone who’s been a believer long enough has likely experienced seasons that feel more mundane or routine, leading to aimlessly skimming a couple of Bible verses or praying the same prayer over and over. In Be Thou My Vision, Jonathan Gibson has created a 31-day liturgical guide designed to provide structure to the daily worship of individuals and families. Each daily reading includes a call to worship, adoration, confession, assurance, creed and catechism, the Gloria Patri, a prayer of illumination, Bible reading, intercessory prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer. Designed to be read in 15–20 minutes a day, this beautifully produced liturgy will give readers focus and purpose to their daily quiet time while teaching them historical prayers, creeds, and catechisms that point them to Christ.
The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus by Rich Villodas.
Publisher: Waterbrook, Colorado Springs, CO. 2020.
During our chaotic times, discover five forgotten values that can spark internal growth and help us reconcile our Christian faith with the complexities of race, sexuality, and social justice.
WINNER OF THE CHRISTIANITY TODAY BOOK AWARD
Most believers live in the state of “being a Christian” without ever being deeply formed by Christ. Our pace is too frenetic to be in union with God, and we don’t know how to quiet our hearts and minds to be present. Our emotions are unhealthy and compartmentalized. We feel unable to love well or live differently from the rest of the world—to live as people of the good news.
New York pastor Rich Villodas says we must restore balance, focus, and meaning for our souls. The Deeply Formed Life lays out a fresh vision for spiritual breakthrough following five key values:
• Contemplative Rhythms Value: slowing down our lives to be with God.
• Racial Justice Value: examining a multi-layered approach to pursuing racial justice and reconciliation.
• Interior Examination Value: looking beneath the surface of our lives to live free and love well.
• Sexual Wholeness Value: exploring how our sexuality connects with our spirituality.
• Missional Presence Value: living as the presence of Christ in a broken world.
The Deeply Formed Life is a roadmap to live in the richly rooted place we all yearn for: a place of communion with God, a place where we find our purpose.
Children’s Book: The Lord’s Prayer: For All God’s Children by Harold L. Senkbeil and Natasha Kennedy.
Publisher: Lexham Press, Bellingham, WA. 2022.
How God’s children pray 2022 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Gold Medal Winner - Religion/Spirituality As a loving Father, God invites all his beloved children to come to him. In a fun and friendly way, The Lord’s Prayer: For All God’s Children encourages children to pray to our Father with reverence and boldness. Join FatCat, the friendly feline, as he learns the Lord’s Prayer—Jesus’s prayer that teaches us how to pray. This simple yet profound prayer shapes children’s love for God, need for forgiveness from God, and dependence on God for strength and protection. Learn the Lord’s Prayer and search for FatCat on every page! Each petition of the Lord’s Prayer has a full-page illustration from Jesus’s life and a reflection on its meaning. With a list of Scripture references and a guided family prayer, this FatCat book helps God’s children understand, memorize, and pray the Lord’s Prayer.
Aid for Prayer - "Scripture Prayer Weaving"
What is "Scripture Prayer Weaving?"
A practice to aid daily devotions & Scripture reading.
One way that we grow in prayer & intimacy with God is by learning to pray through the words of Scripture. Prayer is not a monologue but a conversation, answering God as He speaks in His Word (Eugene Peterson); we fix our attention on God’s word in listening meditation, and then respond to what we are reading with our hearts, minds, souls, and strength in prayer. This is what we mean by “scripture-prayer.”
There are many ways you could do this, but I am going to teach you one model that is very helpful and effective.
It is called the “Prayer Wreath,” and it dates all the way back to Martin Luther. It is a simple, yet stabilizing and profound, way to pray the words Scripture as we invite God’s Word and Spirit to dwell in us.
Begin by reading a chapter of Scripture, maybe to start your day. Distractions will come. That’s why it's helpful to have the Word of God outside yourself to anchor your attention. Many prayer-guides throughout history have advised meditation and “preaching to yourself” through considering the words of Scripture as a means to gather your mind towards God. Then, a prayer wreath weaves together praise, thanksgiving, confession, and petition (asking), based on the passage.
What Are The Steps?
So, if you were reading John 16:33, that might be:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
After finding your anchor-text, follow this pattern in your Scripture-Prayer
1.Meditation - Try to understand the passage, and then meditate by restating the promise or command in that verse back to yourself in your own words. Ministers of the past have referred to this meditation as “preaching to yourself.” We see this biblically in Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” The Psalmist is preaching/ meditating to his/her own soul.
2. Adoration and Thanksgiving - After meditating, express thankfulness to God for any promises or words of hope in what you’ve read. Make it personal. This may lead you to personal reflection. Perhaps you remember something from your life when God delivered you or fulfilled a promise in a similar way. Thank God for it as the Spirit leads. Perhaps you simply overflow with praise.
3. Confess - None of us live up to any Scripture we have read. When we read Scripture, God sharpens our dull points and inch by inch makes us more like Jesus. His word creates new life. So, take a moment to confess the ways that you feel as if your life falls short of this promise. Trust his mercy. I like this advice when making a confession: “be brief, be blunt, be free!” You are forgiven based on what Christ has done, extra nos (outside yourself); not your feeling or ability in confession.
4. Ask/ Petition - Now, ask God to take the promise of this verse and seal it up in your heart. Ask him to seal the promises you’ve read within you to deepen your faith. Ask for faith, strength, and the work of the Spirit to bring his commands to greater life in you. Maybe the passage inspires you also to pray for someone else, or a need in the community or your church.
Give Me An Example
An Example of a Prayer Wreath
By Harold Senkbeil (Lutheran Pastor)
“Hallowed be thy name.” (Chosen text)
1. Promise or command - Here, Father, you teach me that your name is holy. As you yourself are holy and reveal yourself to us by your name, so your name is to be revered above all things as holy… you have placed your name upon me and claimed me as your own. Now I belong to you, and I am holy as you are holy [in Christ].
2. Thanks - I thank you, Father, that you have washed me in the cleansing flood of Jesus’ blood and sanctified me to be his own and live under him in his kingdom.
3. Confess - I confess that by the things I have done and left undone, I have profaned your holy name and defiled the holiness you have so graciously shared with me.Please forgive me for Jesus’ sake.
4. Ask - Help me, dear Father, to believe your holy word and lead a godly life in thought, word, and deed so that your name may indeed be holy in my life and so that others may see my good works and glorify you for your great grace.
“The first step in such word based prayer is simply to echo what he has told us, repeating back to him what he has promised or commanded in that word. Then we thank him for that same promise or command, confess our sins against that word, and finally ask him to give or bless whatever he speaks of in that word.” - Harold Senkbeil
Recommended Scriptural Passages
One Week of Recommended Texts
For Prayer Weaving
Romans 8 (can be split into several days)
1 Kings 19:1-18
Full books to consider reading and praying through using “Prayer Weaving”
1, 2, 3 John
Aid for Prayer - Praying with Children
When Praying with children it helps to be...
Like with many habits (especially with children) it helps to have a reliable time, place, and way you pray so children know what to expect.
Say prayers which connect with kids’ imagination in a variety of ways. Memorizing short prayers or songs is good! So is drawing what we're thankful for or writing down our prayers to God like a letter. There are many ways to make prayer part of everyday life.
Young kids are unlikely to pray for very long. Less than 5 minutes is likely. 10-15 for older children. Frequency more than length may be helpful here. That's OK! Like many other activities, it takes us time to work up to greater lengths of time (a runner begins with short runs!). You may want to begin with a time of prayer as short as one minute.
Parents and loved ones modeling faith: the ways it brings solace and peace and the ways you struggle with God are important. While we want to share in an age-and-context-appropriate way, it will not hurt children's faith to understand even adults have questions.
Children may ask you some questions too! Encourage them, answer if you can, but also acknowledge when you do not have the answers. That may be a wonderful opportunity to seek God together in prayer. Making prayer part of your everyday schedule can arise from natural opportunities that come with being open about our faith.
Example Prayers and Activities To Use with Children
Use these prayers as templates and patterns to pray with children.
1. Sing songs, like "The Doxology"
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.”
This short hymn has been used for hundreds of years to give God thanks and praise."
2. Create a Prayer Journal
Even the very young can draw a prayer to God and begin to speak about things they are thankful for, or things which concern them.
3. Help children follow printed prayers found in books
This is just like you might help them follow along in a story book. A bookmark or other straight edge placed under the world can help. For children who are still learning to read, you can highlight Amen, and when you get to that word, say it together! Perfect when introducing family devotions from a book.
4. Combine #2 (Prayer Journals) and #3 (Printed Prayers)
Write a word or phrase in one a prayer-of-the-day in a child’s worship journal or simply a blank piece of paper. Encourage the child to write more prayers or to draw around it. You can join in!
5. Memorize Common Prayers
Go through a storybook version of “The Lord’s Prayer,” and try to memorize the Lord’s prayer slowly (over several days or weeks) one line at a time. Begin by simply reading the storybook version together, but then try to say the prayer together reciting more and more lines by memory.
6. Fill in the Blank Prayer
Take turns going back and forth or from person to person, if you’re in a group, saying, “God is great, God is good, thank you God for ______________.” See how long you can keep it going. You may be surprised if not delighted to hear what your children say. Discussing what is inside our hearts and minds with each other is a crucial way to be open with our faith and encourage one another in our relationship with God. And that goes both directions! Kids can encourage our faith just as much as we encourage theirs.
7. Pray while reading through a family Bible or Devotional app
Some children’s Bibles will have suggested prayers. Other times, you may want to use the Bible story to prompt you to pray. There are also family prayer apps like “Lectio” that can help guide short times of family prayer.
8. Pray in Movement
Here is one example: (3 deep breaths) God, you are above (reach toward the sky), below (touch your toes), inside (hands to heart) and all around (big arm circles). I worship you (reach toward the sky), and give my life to you (touch toes). And I love you (hands to heart) with all that I am (big arm circles). (3 deep breaths)
AND don’t count out the way movement can be helpful in teaching what a “posture of prayer” looks like. Kneeling while praying, can help students realize that we come to God in prayer both approaching God as a friend, and with great respect.
9. Seek out reminders to Pray
There are many ways you can set up physical reminders to pray. Here are two:
A thank you jar -You could create a weekly rhythm where each member of your family writes down one thing they want to say ‘thank you’ for on a scrap of paper and puts it in the ‘Thank you’ Jar. Every few months – or at the end of the year – turn the jar over and spend some time going through all the ‘thank you’s. You’ll find that this activity jogs your memories of all kinds of fun memories and blessings from the past year!
Write down and place scriptural promises and commands And put them around the house: sticky notes on a mirror, a reminder on the door frame. This idea is older than you might think. As the Lord says in Deuteronomy 11:18-20: “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (NIV)
10. Five Finger Prayer
All you need is five fingers for this prayer! Instruct the child to pray holding each finger. There are also worksheets available online if you search “Five finger prayer” you can print out. Pray for the following: Thumb - for those closest to us. Index - for those who teach us. Middle - for our leaders. Ring - for those who are weak, or ill. Pinky- for ourselves.
Podcasts and Other Resources with the Authors
Podcasts and other resources with the authors in our first section.
Tish Harrison Warren — Prayer in the Night on the Renovare Podcast
Dallas Willard — Hearing God Throughout the Year (Bible App Reading Plan)
"Dallas Willard urged us to learn and practice prayer as a two-way dialogue with God. These excerpts from his best-selling book Hearing God, assembled by Jan Johnson, are an invitation to meet God, to allow his voice to shape your choices, and to encourage your heart. As you begin this four-week reading plan, thank God that he promises to meet you wherever you are in your faith journey.
This plan is produced in collaboration with Dallas Willard Ministries www.dallaswillardministries.org. Special thanks to Jan Johnson for assembling the selections, meditations, and prayers from Hearing God and Hearing God Through the Year." https://www.ivpress.com/hearing-god-signature
Eugene Peterson — "On Being" Interview, Section: On Praying the Psalms
Jonathan Gibson — Be Thou My Vision book preview on Crossway (publisher) podcast.
Rich Villodas — The Deeply Formed Life on Public Worship & Public Life Podcast (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship)
We pray these resources will lead you into prayer and deeper knowledge and love of God.
*The Peace of Christ
- Pastors Kendall and Jonathan