When I first became a practicing Christian I was intrigued with the idea of informal, spontaneous prayers. I had grown up only hearing set prayers that were known by those in my liturgical setting. Praying your own words was a novelty, but I also thought it held a greater sincerity. When I came into praying in the spirit – in an utterance that did not use words – I thought this kind of prayer was even more accessible since my understanding of it was the Holy Spirit was praying through me. My spirit was profitable even if my mind was not.
As I have grown older, I have become more circumspect about prayer. I have come to realize that using all manner of prayer has been the most fruitful for my life. So, although I still pray spontaneous prayers, and though I still pray in the spirit, I also find I pray set prayers more than ever.
I have made the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer of Jabez, the prayer of St. Francis, the prayer of St. Richard, the Celtic Prayer, and the Jesus prayer all a part of my repertoire of praying.
I have found these set prayers to be both faith building and also a means to move me above any condition of my heart, mind, or emotions. I have found these most helpful when I awake in the dark of night and cannot sort through my thoughts so well. I have found these helpful when I don’t have the mental energy to know what to pray. I have found I have been able to pray these prayers in silence while in a crowded room or a tense room or a noisy room. I have found these prayers ground my soul in the midst of the storm. And I don’t pray them just once. I pray them repetitively – usually the same prayer again and again until my mind finds its rest in the Lord.
I encourage you who have young children to engage in the practice of having them memorize these prayers. They will have a hold on your child’s mind all their days – even should they walk away from the Lord for a season as they grow older.
I have listed below some of these great prayers. I encourage you to add them to your life of prayer. You will find them to be faithful companions in your journey of faith.