For many years, I’ve written prayers as an occasional faith exercise, but prayer-writing as a spiritual practice really took on rhythm for me in a small group setting one Lenten season almost a decade ago. The intentional time in community — writing, reflecting, sharing, encouraging — deepened the impact of written prayers for me, and greatly informed the ways that I invite others to create their own small group experiences of prayer-writing.
For those who feel hesitant in prayer or in writing (or both), prayer-writing in a small group can be an intimidating premise, yet the small group experience is precisely what we need to remember that we’re not alone in our praying (or writing) struggles. In a small group of prayer-writers, we discover moments of grace and delight. We practice focus and silence together. We learn from one another’s journeys. We take prayer “out of our heads” and engage breath & body & conversation & fellowship.
To write prayers in your own small group this Lent, I suggest inviting persons who enjoy writing as well as those who are seeking a fresh approach to prayer. Find a regular time to meet; weekly meetings are great for building rapport in a new small group. Choose a meeting place where everyone has room to write around the same table. Sometimes the church is a logical meeting space, but I encourage writing groups to meet in non-church locations; the change of scenery provides a tangible reminder that prayer goes beyond our church walls. My practice is to begin meetings with short writing prompts before introducing a scriptural prompt for prayer — using Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen or crafting new prompts.
For detailed tips on leading a prayer-writing small group this Lent, and for six weeks of guided writing resources and prayer prompts, download my free Small Group Guide for Writing to God. You’re also welcome to drop me a message to ask questions about your prayer-writing small group.
Want to read more? Expand the generations of prayer-writers this Lent by using Writing to God: Kids’ Edition with the children in your life at home or at church.
From my book Writing to God: Kids’ Edition, prayer idea #2: Write to God about your feelings. Tell God when you’re happy. God likes to hear your joy! You can write sentences about feeling happy, or write a list of thanks that make you happy. For example, Logan (age 5) writes, “Dear God, thank you for making me happy. I’m happy you let me play soccer on a team. I’m happy you let me have sisters and brothers. I’m happy you made chips because I really like chips.” (Paraclete Press 2012, pg 24-25)
For salt-and-vinegar French fries,
cut fresh, still with the potato skins.
For smooth dark bits of goodness
from my favorite chocolate store.
For my friend whose injury will heal
with the help of doctors and time.
For conversations that continue
across hours, days, even years.
For soft clean bedsheets in which
I wiggle and stretch out my toes.
For all the delights of this world,
I give thanks, O Holy Diversion!
Let the broken moon shell,
worn & weary in the breaking waves,
disclose its silent testimony
of God’s faithfulness:
of the Delight that formed
its microscopic life
on the ocean’s floor;
of the Strength that guarded
its days and the Beauty
that nurtured its growth;
of the Grace that comforted
its breaking and then found a new life
to call the brokenness “home”;
of the Wholeness that honed
many fragments into one landscape,
many lives into one eternal story.
Let the broken moon shell,
serene in the breaking waves,
invoke creation’s praise
for God’s faithfulness.
Today’s prayer prompt comes from Writing to God: Kids’ Edition, my second book and an engaging resource to encourage young readers in prayer. One of my favorite prompts in the Kids’ Edition holds endless possibilities for prayer:
“What’s your favorite color? What do you like about that color? As you think about your favorite color, can you imagine anything that God has in common with that color? For example, if you like blue because it’s a beautiful color for the sky, you could say that blue is beautiful…and God is beautiful too! Describe how God is like your favorite color.” (Paraclete Press 2012, pg 56)
Don’t be afraid of prayer-writing playfully in response to this prompt, nor should you be surprised if the prompt inspires a thoughful prayer from your pen. I hope that you’ll share your prayers as comments here; I’m eager to hear what colors you choose! Here’s my colorful psalm:
Flushed with passion
Bold as a tiger lily
Sunshine to my soul
Envious as the all-encompassing ivy
Lament in a 12-bar keen
Faithful and exposed like a bloom
How great you are, O God our God,
like a breath-taking rainbow!
I could glow
honey, peach & gold
under the summer sun
like this hayfield
~ all & only
in praise of God
our Sun and Peace ~
then I think that
I would accomplish