New Ways to Pray

According to Koenig, a researcher in spirituality and health, over 95% of people aged 50 or older pray. Prayer and meditation help us to optimize our health in many ways. In my own journey over the last few years, I have found that there are many more ways to pray than I was traditionally taught. For most of us, prayers for ourselves (traditionally called prayers of petition) and prayers for others (traditionally called prayers of intercession) form the back-bone of most of our prayer life. But what happens when our prayers seem fruitless and frustrating? Perhaps one of these other forms of prayer might help you over this challenging time.

Contemplative Prayer
Coming out of monastic tradition this form of prayer encourages participants to find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably with no distractions. Try to allow yourself to be present. If distracting thoughts come into your mind, simply name them and let them go. Choose a sacred phrase or word that will help you to clear your mind and remain open. Try to practice this form of prayer for 15-20 minutes each day.

Allow Text to Speak to You
Ever had a “thought for the day” or a saying on a T-Shirt speak loudly to you? You can re-create those “aha” moments more often in your life by reading more intentionally. This could be sacred literature, poetry, a meaningful book or a thoughtful article. To get this effect, read it several times until some words jump out at you. By reading prayerfully and attentively, we open up space in our souls.

Insert Yourself Into the Story
This is particularly effective if you have a series of stories that are meaningful to you. What is the Goliath in your life that you feel too small to knock down? Put yourself into the story and then you realize that Goliath is so big, you can’t miss! Who is the Darth Vader of grief? Can you envision yourself conquering the darkness?

Praying in Color
Developed by Sybil MacBeth, who sought to find a way to hold friends who were suffering from cancer and other ongoing illnesses in her thoughts and prayers by coloring and drawing as she was thinking of them. The resulting drawing, however simple, can be shared with those whom we are praying for. The technique doesn’t have to be limited to drawing. It can be any activity that helps us to focus. Knit a prayer shawl or run a mile in prayer.

As the saying goes “s/he who sings once, prays twice.” Music connects us deeply to our own souls, creation around us and is the universal language.

Your Spiritual Care Providers are available to help you navigate the challenging times in your life. Be in touch with us if we can help.

Koenig, Harold G.   Is Religion Good for Your Health?  Hawthorne Press, 1997, pg. 43

Macbeth, Sybil.   Praying In Color, Paraclete Press, 2007.


About uhnspiritualcare

Spiritual Care Professional to Toronto Western Hospital with the University Health Network.

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