From Help for Shepherds
Jump to: navigation, search

Back to Resources

As Christian leaders, prayer is extremely important both personally and professionally. But sometimes it is hard to get people, and ourselves, beyond the usual requests, standardized words, and into a real encounter with God. Sometimes we need to pray other people's words for a time, like believers have been doing with the Psalms for millennia, in order to break us out of our ruts or to truly express a ceremony or event. Other times, it takes experiencing prayer in a new and different way in order to fully open our hearts to God again in prayer.

This page is not designed to be the sole repository for prayers, such a place is ridiculous to even contemplate. Neither is it meant to either replace anyone's normal prayer life or to represent any "shortcuts" to prayer. As Thomas Merton says, "there are no tricks and no shortcuts [to the spiritual life]." Instead, this page is to help people expand the breadth of their prayer life and prevent prayer from becoming stale or routine, because conversation with the creator of the universe should always be fresh.

Prayer Experiences

There are many ways to pray, and many mindsets to have while we pray. These are some ways other have found helpful to lead a group, or an individual, into a new way of encountering God in prayer. These are generally fairly quick prayer moments for groups that try to bypass the routine and the normal words we use so that we begin to think about talking with God again. Some are more experiential, others are more teaching.

Some of these ideas will work with you, and others you will probably not like, not find meaningful, or just plain be uncomfortable with.

  • Be in My... - Based on part of St. Patrick's breastplate prayer, this is an introspective prayer.
  • Building Prayers - This is a solitary way of focusing the mind while praying and making something while doing it that is a physical reminder of the time spent in prayer.
  • By the Seashore - This short experience is an attempt to get you to mentally picture having a private conversation with Jesus in physical terms to make it easier to pray naturally and with focus.
  • Grasping Hands - This is a prayer experience of releasing, letting go and receiving life, and is very similar to the standard "hands" prayer.
  • Hands - This is a simple prayer or receiving from God.
  • Images - This experience invites people to use pictures from their lives and the world to focus their prayers and talk with God about subjects they may have been avoiding.
  • Journaling - An attempt at making us aware of our prayers and making them more purposeful.
  • Love Your Enemies - An exercise to help us succeed at living Christ's command to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute us from Matthew 5:44.
  • Meaningful Words - Taking single words or attitudes of faith and focuses our prayers around them can help us to expand what we say and deal with areas meaningfully that otherwise might get ignored.
  • Nature Praises God - This attempts to help people see beyond their own situation and praise God among his creations.
  • Special Place - Another attempt at visualizing Christ personally so that you san speak intimately with him.

Historical Prayers

The prayers of great men and women throughout Christian history can be inspiring, touching, and almost always still touch your heart and speak to the soul.

Prayer of Alfred the Great

Christian king of England, late 800's CE. (conclusion to his translation of Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy)

Lord God Almighty, maker and ruler of all creatures, I beseech You on behalf of Your mighty mercy, and through the sign of the Holy Cross, and through St. Mary's maidenhood, and through St. Michael's obedience, and through the love and merits of all your saints – that you guide me better than I have done towards you; and direct me according to Your will and to my soul's need better than I myself am able; and strengthen my mind to Your will and to my soul's need, and confirm me against the devil's temptations; and keep far from me foul lust and all iniquity; and protect me from my enemies visible and invisible; and teach me to perform your will, that I may inwardly love You before all things with pure thought and clean body. For You are my Creator and my Redeemer, my sustenance, my consolation, my trust and my hope. Praise and Glory be to You now and forever, world without end. Amen.

St. Ambrose


Holy Spirit, Come upon us this hour without delay; Pour out your graces on our souls. Let tongue and soul and mind and strength proclaim your praise. Set our love aflame by the fire of your love, and may its warmth enkindle love in our neighbors. Empower us with your presence in the name of Chirst. Amen.

O Splendor of God's glory bright, 
O thou who bringest light from light, 
O light of light, light's living spring, 
O Day, all days illumining! 
The Father, too, our prayers implore, 
Father of glory evermore, 
The Father of all grace and might, 
...To banish sin from our delight.

St. Augustine

Major Christian writer and thinker from the late Roman period.

O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that thou mayest enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases thy sight; I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, or to whom shall I cry but unto thee? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare thy servant from strange sins. (as printed in A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)

A Franciscan Blessing

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”


My God, I want to give myself to you. Give me the courage to do this. 
My spirit within me sighs after you. Strengthen my will. Take me.
If I don't have the strength to give you everything, then draw me by the sweetness of your love. 
Lord, who do I belong to, if not to you?
What a horror to belong to myself and to my passions! 
Help me to find all my happiness in You, for there is no happiness outside of you.
Why am I afraid to break out of my chains? Do the things of this world mean more to me than you? 
What a mistake! It is not even I who would give myself to you, but You who would give Yourself to me. 
Take my heart.
What a joy it is to be with You, to be quiet so that I might hear Your voice! 
Feed me and teach me out of your depths. 
Oh God, You only make me love you.
Why should I fear to give You everything and draw close to You? 
Your mercy can overcome any obstacle. I am unworthy of You, but I can become a miracle of your grace.

"My God, I wish to give myself to thee. Give me the courage to do so." - (As printed in A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants)

St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make my an
instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred,
Let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy;
Oh divine master,
grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood
as to understand;
to be loved
as to love;
for it is in giving
that we receive;
it is in pardoning
that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying
that we are born to Eternal Life.


Translated by F. Bland Tucker

Watch o'er thy Church, O Lord, in mercy, Save it from evil, guard it still, Perfect it in thy love, unite it, Cleansed and conformed unto thy will. As grain, once scattered on the hillsides, Was in this broken bread made one, So from all land thy Church be gathered into thy kingdom by thy son.

Phos Hilaron

O gracious Light, pure brightness of our everlasting God in heaven, O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed! Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing your praises, O God: most holy and blessed Trinity. You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices, O son of God, O giver of Life, and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Theodulph of Orleans

All Glory,Laud and Honor' translated by John Neale 19th C

All glory, laud and honor to Thee, Redeemer King
To whom the lips of children  made sweet hosannas ring.
Thou art the King of Israel, Thou David's royal Son,
Who in the Lord's name cometh, the King and blessed One.
The company of angels are praising Thee on high
And mortal men and all things created make reply
The people of the Hebrews with palms before Thee went
Our praise & prayer & anthems before Thee we present.
To Thee, before Thy passion, they sang their hymns of praise
To Thee, now high exalted, our melody we raise
Thou didst accept their praises, accept the praise we bring
Who in all good delighteth, Thou good and gracious King.

St. Theresa of Avila

Govern all by your wisdom, O Lord, so that my soul may serve you as you desire, and not as I might choose. Do not punish me, I beg you, by granting something I wish or ask for if it offends or goes against your love, which would always live in me. Let me die to myself so that I may serve you, you who are yourself the true life.

Modern Prayers

Dwight M. Vogel

Lord Jesus Christ, who came to set us free: Let the shadow of your cross fall upon us in this hour that we may wonder at the gift of your redeeming love, rejoice in your resurrection, and be empowered by your Spirit to take up our own cross daily and follow you. Amen.

Henry Nouwen

From "A cry for Mercy"

I call to you, O Lord, from my quiet darkness. Show me your mercy and love. Let me see your face, hear your voiuce, touch the hem of your cloak. I want to love you, be with you, speak to you and simple stand in your presence. But I cannot make it happen. Pressing my eyes against my hands is not praying, and reading about your presence is not living in it.

But there is that moment in which you will come to me, as you did to your fearful disciples, and say "Do not be afraid; it is I." Let that moment come soon, O Lord. And if you want to delay it, then make me patient. Amen.