More than many of us would admit, prayer can be a struggle. We worry that we’re not saying the right words or praying for the right things, we internally compare our prayers to others’ more eloquent & poetic prayers, we stress when prayer feels stagnant, we tell ourselves that we’re not disciplined enough in prayer. And sometimes, overcoming our hesitation in prayer really is a matter of discipline … but often it’s a matter of facing our fears of prayer.
How can we tackle our insecurities about prayer? First, try a new prayer style! Just as we all have different learning styles, we all have different affinities for varied styles of prayer. By exploring new prayer styles, we can discover prayer habits that resonate beautifully with our souls and we can test methods of prayer that uncomfortably stretch our spirits. You might gravitate toward meditative prayer while I love using devotional books. You may challenge yourself with the discipline of the Daily Hours, while I play with Praying in Color.
One of my favorite methods of prayer is prayer-writing. With a pen in my hand, I find that I can focus on prayer in refreshing ways, no longer distracted by my grocery shopping list or my church work or the dust on my desk. Writing my prayers also shifts my self-consciousness into creativity; I am no longer captivated by my insecurities about prayer, but rather captivated by the prayer itself coming together on paper before my eyes. My fears are diverted as I enjoy meeting the Word Made Flesh through written words.
In addition to exploring new prayer disciplines, to tackle your fears of prayer gather a small group to pray together. Although praying in a group may seem counter-intuitive in light of our fears (not many of us feel perfectly comfortable praying in front of others!), in fact, studying & practicing & discussing prayer in community can encourage our spirits tremendously. Together we realize that we’re not alone in our prayer struggles. Together we discover moments of grace and delight in prayer. Together we learn from one another’s journeys. Together we take prayer “out of our heads” and we engage prayer in breath & body & conversation & fellowship.
To write prayers in your own small group, 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 together; weekly meetings are best to build rapport in a newly-formed group. Choose a gathering place where everyone has room to write around one 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 writing group loves a local tea shop, where hot cups of freshly-brewed tea and warmed muffins delight our senses as we write.)
For more tips on starting a prayer-writing group, and for six weeks of guided writing resources and prayer prompts, download my free Small Group Guide for Writing to God. And you can always drop me a message on this website to ask questions about your prayer-writing small group.