What is Prayer? How Do I Pray?

‘Lord, teach us to pray’

Lighting prayer candles during Holy Communion

That request was put to Jesus by his own disciples – which should encourage us if we feel we don’t know how to pray. They needed help, and so do we, especially at troubled times such as these. Here are some suggestions for you…

A prayer before night falls:
Lighten our darkness,
Lord, we pray,
and in your great mercy
defend us from all perils and dangers of this night,
for the love of your only Son,
our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

(adapted from The Book of Common Prayer)

A prayer for those in pain:
Lord God, whose Son, Jesus Christ,
understood people’s fear and pain
before they spoke of them,
we pray for those in hospital;
surround the frightened with your tenderness;
give strength to those in pain;
hold the weak in your arms of love,
and give hope and patience
to those who are recovering;
we ask this through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.Amen

(Christine McMullen, Mother’s Union)

A short prayer about hope and joy
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:18-19 (The Message)

But there isn’t just one right way to pray – what works well for one person may not for another. The following thoughts are offered just as guidelines which may be useful:

  • When we pray we come before God with the world on our hearts. We are also offering ourselves to be in some small way channels of love and peace in God’s world.
  • God already knows what is in our hearts and minds. We can be honest with God, and say exactly how we feel, or even just sit in silence.
  • It might help to find a quiet space. You may want to be on your own, but you may also find that it helps to join other people, who may be gathering to pray in local churches, but also in schools, workplaces and elsewhere.
  • You may find that you can say just what you want to, using your own words. But many people find it helpful to use written prayers.

(with thanks to for the above)

21 Ways to Pray

Try these great ideas from


Prayer at St Francis

As well as private prayer, small groups, and worship, our Prayer Chain and Worship Prayer Team exist to pray for others.