Prayer Guide








This Contemplative Style Prayer Study is designed for those who want a deep relationship with God. You will need some knowledge of the Bible to pray at this level. Not everyone is ready for this prayer style. But I believe everyone should strive to pray in this way. This Prayer study is written to span six to eight weeks although it could certainly go longer if you want to progress slower. I would not recommend trying to do it more quickly. In this study we will explore the last two levels of prayer: Listening to God and Being with God. The intention is to develop a closer relationship with God. The seventh and eighth week are optional but recommended. The seventh week is especially intended for those who may have struggled in the first six studies. It is a lesson to determine your personality and then show you a style of prayer to suit your personality. The last lesson is meant to challenge you to live out what you have learned with a group of Christians. 

We will start with some pointers. First, a good habit takes time to develop usually weeks, but a bad habit only takes days. Daily prayer requires a conscious decision to persevere. In other words, make it happen even when it is difficult. You will need discipline. You will have to sacrifice time. If this is difficult think about all the time that is wasted during the day, watching TV, playing on the computer, or just sitting around. The list is endless. We don’t have to give up all our free time or down time. Ideally we would devote one hour a day to prayer, but in today’s fast moving society that is very difficult to do. With that in mind let us set aside 20 minutes a day 6 days a week to start and if you are able, work your way up to the full hour every day. When this study is done it is expected that you will continue praying this way, although I must admit that I struggle with that. Understand that if you miss some days you can always pick it up when you are able. The Devil will try to stop you. You must fight this urge.

What is the best time to pray? Let us consider that God is the creator of all things including our lives and He has given us all things. Therefore we should strive to give Him our best. Think about your daily routine. When do you feel the most alert, or think the best? Some will say first thing in the morning, others might say in the evening or maybe it is midday. What ever the time of day you feel is your best that would be the ideal time to set aside to pray. If you can pray longer than 20 minutes split the time up through out your day. You might pray for 20 minutes in the morning and again at night. I keep using 20 minutes because that is considered the least amount of time for deep prayer. If you can only find 10 minutes at a time, that is better than no time.

Find a place that is quiet and has little to no distraction during the time you will be praying. You want to be comfortable, not so comfortable that you will fall asleep, but you want to be able to fully relax in this spot. You might sit in a chair, kneel on the floor or cushion, or even lay flat. Next you will want to keep a prayer journal. Use a notebook or something that you can record your experiences daily. You will want to write about what you are asking God and anytime you feel God has given you direction. Something that may help you see God in your day is to write about the blessings of that day. There are always blessings. Sometimes it takes hard thought to come up with some but there are always blessings each day. By doing this you will be able to look back and see God at work in your life.

Do not be discouraged if you seem to experience nothing during or after prayer this is normal but also be prepared for possible extraordinary things to occur, such as dreams or visions, feeling God’s presence and many other unusual but extraordinary things. It is helpful if you have a group of people whom you can discuss your experiences with, especially someone who has experience with praying contemplatively.

The type of prayers we will be studying are generally grouped under the heading Contemplative Prayer.

We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. In the Christian tradition Contemplative Prayer is considered to be the pure gift of God. It is the opening of mind and heart - our whole being - to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing - closer than consciousness itself.1

“Be still, and know that I am God" 2 (Psalm 46:10)

...And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.2(1 Kings 19:10-13)

Notice that God calls us to be still in Psalm 46 and in 1 Kings Elijah experiences God in the gentle whisper. While God sometimes uses wind, earthquakes and fire we are to find him in the stillness of a whisper. We often find ourselves looking for God in the wrong places. We want God to show us His will in great power and might but He will show us His will in His great mercy and grace with the tenderness of a whisper.
Questions to ponder:
  1. What time of day is your best time of day?
  2. Can you devote at least 20 minutes to prayer at that time? If not what time of day can you devote to prayer? This is the best time for you to pray.
  3. Where can you relax and pray without distraction?
  4. Do you have a timer that doesn’t make noise until the alarm goes off? If not you need some way of keeping track of time without looking at the clock all the time. Maybe a watch with an alarm, or alarm clock or electronic kitchen timer. This will be helpful when starting out. After a while you might be able to pray without a timer.

Weekly Studies

1taken from the web site

2The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Online Bible and Study Tools