I’ve just finished reading Pete Greig’s excellent book called How to Pray: a guide for normal people. And, although I’m not sure how truly normal I am, I did find it a very helpful and encouraging book.
One of the things Greig suggests in the book is using the mnemonic P.R.A.Y. when we pray. Which works as follows.
P is for Pause
Before we start praying it’s good to pause, to definitively stop whatever else we have been doing. It’s a bit like when you have to make a right turn off a main road, you need to stop first – to gather your senses and your full concentration before you make the turn. In prayer, we need to pause and allow ourselves to become full present in time and place so that we recognise that God is with us, and we can then begin to engage with him.
R is for Rejoice
Once you’ve paused and stilled yourself, it’s good to take some time to rejoice in God’s many blessings. To have a time of thankfulness. I like to use all my senses to see, hear, touch, taste and feel the wonder of God and creation all around me. When I do this, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the simple joy that it is to be alive. Taking time for rejoicing is an essential part of prayer.
A is for Ask
Jesus tells us to ask God for the things that are on our hearts. God loves us like the most loving parent imaginable and he wants us to come to him with all our problems and concerns. God wants to give us not only our daily bread but also he wants to turn water into wine for us. He wants to lead us into green pastures and for our cup to overflow with blessing. Our requests, whether big or small, can never irritate God or waste his time. He loves us to tell him what we most desire.
Y is for Yield
The night before he died, Jesus prayed that God would take away the cup of suffering that was before him. But then Jesus adds, ‘Yet not my will but yours be done.’ When we pray we surrender to the will of God – trusting that God loves us and loves all his children. Our prayers become less about what we want for ourselves and more about what God wants, as he calls us to work with him to bring in his kingdom. To make the world the place of peace and justice for all - that he yearns for it to be. We yield to the one who loves us, forgives us, protects us and redeems us.
P.R.A.Y – Pause, Rejoice, Ask and Yield
I’ve been using the mnemonic for the last few days and have found that it has given much greater depth and balance to my prayers. So I encourage you to give it a try. Pause, rejoice, ask and yield – and then you will truly know how to pray.