Prayer, along with the study of Scripture, are the core of everything we do as Christians. Every act of worship, every act of service, every time of fellowship flows out of these two things. So it is no wonder that we should refocus ourselves on Prayer during the season of Lent. This leaves us to ask “how should we pray?”
And the answers are many. Paul commends us to “pray without ceasing.” And if we are going to pray in many times and many places it stands to reason that we would also need different ways to pray. For many of us, our prayers are silent, casual and nonphysical. This kind of prayer is important. This is everyday walking, driving, in class, at work, in the shower kind of prayer. It’s the running conversation with God. We need this.
But there are other dimensions of prayer that we often neglect. We tend to separate out our bodies, our minds and our souls when we think about daily life. We assume it doesn’t matter whether we sit or stand or speak when we pray because those are functions of our bodies and prayer comes from the soul or the mind.
But Scripture doesn’t support this clean break of body and soul. When God creates Adam it is only when the body and the breath (or spirit) of life are joined together that Adam is a living being. Christianity itself is fundamentally about bodies, as we look to a God who takes on a body, lives and suffers and dies in a body and then is resurrected in a body (still carrying the scars of his life!)
What does it say about prayer then if bodies are so central to who we are? The way we feel, the way we present ourselves and arrange ourselves in prayer matters. This doesn’t mean that we do away with our silent conversations with God but it does mean that we need other tools to bring to our lives of prayer.
Just like there are learning styles there are styles of prayer and they engage us in different ways. This Lenten season we are creating prayer stations for use at home in daily prayer. Each of our Youth is beginning with four items to help lead them through prayer.
The stone calls us back to the ebenezars and altars of Genesis. Hold the stone in your hand as you thank God for the blessings in your life. We begin our prayer in thanksgiving for the many things God has given us in our lives.
The water reminds us of our baptism and the way we are joined with other Christians in communities of faith. Dip your fingers into the water water and pray for your church, the churches in our community and the capital C Church, of all Christian believers in the world. They come from many different worldviews and places but through baptism and God’s Spirit we are still one body and one family.
The burlap is like the sackcloth and ashes worn by devout Israelites for mourning and repentance. Rub the rough material between your fingers. Notice the discomfort and unpleasantness of it. Take time to offer up to God the sins and failures in your life and pray for strength and transformation to turn away from them.
Finally the sand reminds us of the wilderness and exile stories. Stories where God’s people were called into times of waiting or preparation. First offer up to God the things that trouble you. Pray for patience but also ask God to intervene. We need to be able to be honest with God with the things that anger and upset us. That too is part of prayer. After that pray for God to prepare you for where He is leading you. God has a vision and a call for all of us. Pray for God to help you see that vision and equip you to follow it.
These are only four items of many which could rest in a prayer station. In the photo you’ll notice that I also have a glass cross. That cross reminds me to thank God and pray for the many amazing teachers and mentors who have helped prepare me for ministry. It also reminds me to pray the amazing classmates and peers I have in ministry who are out serving in all sorts of churches and ministries all over the world. The mountain dew bottle isn’t just recycling either. It’s a physical reminder of my Lenten practice that sits over my desk and frames my prayers.
Hopefully this will be the start of a prayer practice that can carry you through and beyond the Lenten season. As with our other Lenten practices, we encourage families to ask questions and participate alongside our Youth in this season of prayer. Use your imagination and find suitable items to add to your prayer station. I will include a few ideas below.
-Candles have been a part of prayer in Christian practice for the entire history of the Church. Fire reminds us of strength and purity. It is also a reminder of the Holy Spirit (as we saw it at Pentecost). If you are comfortable (and parentally allowed), consider adding a candle to your prayer station.
-A notebook is a common sense addition to a prayer station, allowing you to write down the people and things you are praying for.
-Instrumental, choral or worship music could also be a focusing tool to add to your prayer station.
If you have a cool idea for a prayer station addition or a comment or question about prayer feel free to leave it in a comment or drop me an email (text/call etc)