A guide to our written prayers
We have created these 31 prayers, one for each day of the month, as a way of giving structure to our daily prayer time. These prayers are primarily composed of Scripture, especially from the book of Psalms, which has been the prayer book of God’s people for over 3000 years. There is also an emphasis on the Words of Jesus, especially taken from the Sermon on the Mount, which has historically been seen as a powerful summary of Jesus’ call to discipleship and a description of the kingdom of God.
We have also included prayers by those who walked closely with Jesus throughout the centuries. They represent different Christian traditions, reminding us that God’s beauty and fullness cannot be contained in just one Christian tradition. We have found that these prayers can help us go deep with God by rooting us in who God is and His grand story, that we are a part of. They connect us with the Church universal. We join with others who are praying the same prayers. They give us words when we lack our own and strength during the days of darkness and doubt that we all encounter.
These prayers are framed around six sections:
1) Opening Prayer--a time to prepare our hearts.
2) Prayer of the Bible--a time to express our ‘true’ heart to God; our fears, our joys, our
frustrations, our pains, our gratitudes. God delights in our genuine expressions.
3) Confession of Sin--a time to allow God to search us and reveal any areas of sin so that we can bring it to the Cross of Jesus, where we find not only forgiveness, but also cleansing, healing and freedom from the power of sin.
4) The Words of Jesus--at the center of each daily prayer are the words of Jesus. We are invited to move slowly and thoughtfully through His life-giving words, trusting He is always speaking to us personally.
5) Prayers for ourselves and others--here we have space to bring our own needs as well as the needs of others before God, trusting He not only listens but is moved by our prayers.
6) Closing Prayer--Encouragement to be faithful to God, and a call to live a life of loving service.
These prayers are the creative outflow of the Apprenticeship to Jesus fellowship. We have journeyed the past ten years together seeking to grow in our love for Jesus, as his friends, working with him to see his kingdom come and will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.
We hope these prayers become a conduit of grace to help you grow in the practice of being with God, where, in love, our hearts will be reshaped into the likeness of Jesus. It is in His presence we receive clarity and strength to face each day with all of its challenges, empowered to be a servant of all in the name of Jesus.
-Ryan and Noleen Thurman
friends and followers of Jesus
Prayer is being with God
I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Prayer is being with God, asking and receiving, and talking to Him about the details of our lives.
When we talk of prayer today it can bring up a variety of emotions and ideas. For some, prayer can trigger a sense of shame because they think they don't do ‘it’ enough. While for others the topic of prayer can reveal deep rooted anger or frustration because they feel ‘it’ does not work. Many of us know prayer is important and desire like the first friends of Jesus to not only learn how to pray but also to grow in it. I wonder if we might benefit from a fresh perspective; a rethinking of what prayer is. I believe prayer in its essence is about relationship. It is longing for the simple presence of God, who created us, loves us and is always with us. George Miley writes,
In its most basic form, prayer is simply coming present to God and dwelling in His Presence. God is always right there near us. It is not God who has left us, but we who have left Him. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, in their un-fallen state, knew unbroken communion with God. This is the condition for which the human soul was created. Our fallen state has left us spending large amounts of our time without a conscious awareness of God’s Presence. This absence has left a huge, inescapable hole in our hearts. In moments of honest self-awareness, we know that there is a profound yearning within us for the Presence of God.
What is essential in our journey of prayer is to keep it centered on relationship and recognize that, like any relationship we have, it requires quality time and effort to build and maintain intimacy and trust, which are essential for a loving relationship. This is what we were created for. Being with God is deeply satisfying! Jesus knew this. For him, prayer was always more than a form of words expressing praise, sorrow, needs, or desires. Prayer was recognition that God was constantly present at every moment. For Jesus, prayer was a longing for God, a constant turning towards God. It was both giving and receiving.
We learn to pray from Jesus: We who long to walk more closely with our Father and be drawn more deeply into his heart, can learn so much from Jesus. Perhaps the most important and foundational lesson about prayer that we can learn from Jesus is that there is a rhythm of prayer which can be integrated into our everyday life.
Most individuals and communities who develop a meaningful life of prayer that grows over the years do so because they develop regular habits of prayer. What this looks like—how often we pray, or where, or when, or how—is not the point. What is necessary is to discover a pattern of prayer that fits well with our personality and unique situation, and then commit ourselves to do everything we can to plant it into our lives so deeply that it becomes difficult to uproot. Prayer can become as natural and integrated in our lives as eating or sleeping. But it takes work to develop the habit. Again, looking at Jesus, we see he had the custom of going to the synagogue to pray. He was known by those around him for his habit of withdrawing into solitude to be with His Father, as well as slipping away in the early mornings to pray. We learn from Jesus that being with God is about knowing our Father’s heart and receiving the grace to hear and obey him.
We grow in prayer as we receive the gifts of the Church: The Church is the body of Christ. The Church is holy and beautiful because of Christ and at the same time it is frail and broken because it is made up of men and women. Throughout history Christ has inspired many gifts to be created through the Church. Christian worship is a primary gift that goes back to the writing of Paul in Colossians where he encourages Christians to, “let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your heart.” “From its earliest beginnings, Christian worship developed within two settings: The first was the gathering of believers on the first day of the week. Here, worship was structured around the gospel and the shared meal. The second was a rhythm of worship and prayer ordering weekdays. This was typically done in smaller groups, such as families, or individually. It came to be understood as the Church’s work. One of the fruits of this second rhythm of worship and prayer was the development of written prayers that would eventually be compiled into prayer books so that followers of Jesus could have a guide for their daily prayer time.
Written Prayers help us in our prayer journey: In our current Christian culture we tend to see ourselves as having the primary role in prayer and worship, and we feel pressure to express our love and devotion to God in a genuine way. This can lead us to rely heavily on our feelings- do we feel close to God, do we feel passion. Written prayers remind us that God is the primary actor. He initiates relationship. He is always with us, and pursues us when we leave Him. We learn to trust that whether we feel God’s presence or not, He is with us and we will be met and reshaped by Him. God initiates and we respond.
1) Written prayers give us words. I imagine that there have been times in which you, like me, felt the need to pray, but were at a loss for words. Written prayers can help us learn Scripture and specific prayers, so that one day when we are so completely low, so profoundly desperate that we cannot bring forth from our soul any spontaneous words, we will discover that these words come up and offer themselves to us as a gift of God, as a gift of the Church, helping us in our time of need.
2) Written prayers create a structure to help us remain balanced, so our time with God does not focus too much on ourselves but remains rooted in God and also on others, both near and far. They remind us there are prayers that we share in common, as part of the human family. It is deeply encouraging to realize that other followers of Jesus have walked the same path we are on and have felt the same sorrow, pain, joy, and hope we experience.
3) Written prayers connect us with the Church universal. It is humbling to know that around the world many are praying these same psalms and prayers that we are. In fact, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1-3) who are the authors of some of these prayers and have prayed the same prayers that we are praying now. Finally, we are joining with a large heavenly host who are forever offering similar words of praise and blessing to God.
For the monastic tradition, East and West, the chief purpose of prayer is the overcoming of forgetfulness, Spiritual life is learning to remember the presence of God and continually return our heart and thoughts to God.