Learning to pray, especially throughout each day, involves memorizing a few prayers. As we’ve discussed here at Anglican Pastor, each Christian should do so, so that we can have these words ready to guide us. This isn’t the only way to pray, but it is a foundation for our other prayers.
Jesus said that when you pray, don’t heap up empty words, thinking that the number of repetitions, or just the right combination of words or phrases will win God’s ear.
God our Father is not like that. He is already attuned to our needs and our hearts.
What Jesus didn’t say is “don’t memorize any prayers, use other people’s prayers, or ever repeat yourself.”
In fact, Jesus taught his disciples a prayer that has been memorized and repeated for two millennia: the Lord’s Prayer.
Support, Direct, and Assist
I had a very difficult time with prayer until I was taught this simple reality. I was always trying to figure out what to pray, and hoping I was doing it right. But when I learned the tradition of prayer, passed down to us from Scripture and our spiritual mothers and fathers, a new prayer life opened up. It didn’t prevent my personal expressions, and they weren’t there for me to repeat over and over, hoping that by repetition, or by finding the right combination of words, God would hear me. Instead, they were there to support, direct, and assist me in prayer.
So what prayers should we memorize? I’ll give a few prayers. This is not an exhaustive list, but countless Christians have found them helpful. Some of them are praises, some are laments, some are confessions. They cover the whole gamut.
The Lord’s Prayer
First is the Lord’s Prayer. This is the big kahuna of prayers. The Lord himself gave it to us, and it is the outline of all Christian prayer.
“Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
These prayers acknowledge our dependence on God, but makes a statement of faith: I will praise you.
The Jesus Prayer
The most well known version is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
The Jesus Prayer is a way to learn how to “pray without ceasing” as St. Paul taught. Often it is said with each inbreath and outbreath.
The Gloria Patri
“Glory to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and every shall be, forever and ever. Amen.”
This mini-hymn of praise packs a powerful punch. I love it because it centers us on the eternal mystery of God the Holy Trinity, giving us both profound words of praise, but also brings a peacefulness of resting in God’s eternality.
The Blessed Mary
The “hail Mary” prayer is controversial among some Anglicans, because it directly addresses Mary. However, it is taken from the words of Scripture, as Elizabeth greets Mary. An alternative version would be “Blessed is Mary among women, and blessed is the fruit of her womb, Jesus.”
I include this here for two reasons. First, the earliest creed, the Apostles, mentions Mary’s part in salvation history as a fundamental aspect of our Faith. Second, because this focus in prayer is very ancient and long lasting in church devotional history.
“Guide us waking O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.”
“Almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless us and keep us. Amen.”
I think you can see the point of these! Rest in the peace of God.
The Sign of the Cross
In another post, we discussed how and why to make the sign of the cross. The prayer for this sign is “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
I hope these simple prayers assist you in your prayers throughout the day. Post some more suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out Winfield Bevin’s great Field Guide for Prayer.