"Some families and communities find it helpful to have a prayer bowl on the coffee table or in the room where they gather to pray each day. Whenever someone asks for prayer, they write the request on a little slip of paper and put it in the bowl. Then when it's time for morning or evening prayer, each person can take a few slips of paper from the bowl and read out the requests during the time for prayers for others. This is also a good way to remember people we don't see everyday, like children in war zones, victims of human trafficking, or our political leaders."~ Shane Claiborne, Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
When I read that suggestion I couldn't help but find it a great way to keep prayer creative and engaging within a family or community setting. Sometimes when my family gathers together and it's time to pray, there is a silence that descends after the first couple of prayers are uttered. It's almost like some of our minds can go blank when it comes to our turn!
This especially can be the case when praying with a group outside of one's family. Have you ever been in a circle of friends or at a Bible study where there might be two people in the circle that have very much to say and pray about but when it comes to your turn you just run out of ideas! Well, ok, I'll admit I have! And its certainly not because there isn't enough to pray about! Our world is filled with sin and darkness, disease, war and suffering. If we don't know someone personally to lift up in prayer there are countless brothers and sisters across the globe and in our communities that we can pray for.
The idea of having a community prayer bowl gives everyone the opportunity to get involved and not feel like they are being put "on the spot". For many that haven't been raised in families that have prayed together , or in churches, this puts pressure off of them and gets them active within the circle of prayer. The prayer bowl also allows a greater chance of new ideas and prayer suggestions to be interwoven in the time together and prevents a prayer request from being forgotten.
There are other suggestions for individual prayer that I've heard in the past that are creative and worth considering applying to one's practices. One such suggestion is creating a prayer closet, or a space designated for praying in solitude. In this sacred place for prayer, it's suggested putting pictures and other articles up to remind you of the things that you feel inspired to pray for. For example, maybe a picture of someone serving in the military overseas, perhaps just a word that inspires you to pray over a certain region or group of people who are persecuted. You can read more about this if you'd like here: http://ascendingthehills.blogspot.com/2011/02/sacred-places-creating-place-for-prayer.html
One of my friends responded to that post, on creating sacred places for prayer, and mentioned that she had made homemade prayer beads. (Thank you Debra!) I think that is a beautiful idea for prayer! I'm planning on making this a project for my kids and I to do together. This is some of Shane Claiborne's suggestions on creating prayer beads:
~ Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals,p. 292For instance, create a chain of different-sized beads (or different-colored or different-textured beads) for various prayers. You might have a large bead for the Lord's Prayer. You might have seven rough beads for praying against the seven deadly sins-pride, envy, lust, anger, gluttony, greed, and sloth- and you might have nine little ones for the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galations, so that you can rest on each one and pray that it would take root and grow like a seed inside of you- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
We have a God of unceasing imagination. We just have to look around at Creation to reaffirm us of that reality! The life that surrounds us, with it's brilliant hues, sounds and textures pulse with God's love and affection for the world and children He created and continues to create. Since our God is full of imagination, let's also be! Prayer should never be dull but an active devotion and expression of love towards God. Let's come before Him in prayer with thirsty hearts set on Him. Let's be creative in our methods and find ones that speak to us and help us enter His presence more readily.
Is there a way that you pray that is unique? Would you consider any of these methods or already practice them? Please share in the comments section!