What is Spontaneous Prayer?
Prayer is part of a living friendship with God. Here are some words from Psalm 42 that illustrate this relationship:-
"By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me- a prayer to the God of my life"
(Psalm 42:8, NIV)
In Hebrew this last line can be translated as "prayer to God is my life". In other words, prayer can be as naturally interwoven in our lives as breathing or eating. Prayer can happen in our thought lives as a reaction to things as the day progresses. These prayers can be very short, spontaneous moments amidst the busyness of life. They can also be turned into spoken prayer, just as we would speak to a friend or loved one. Hence spontaneous prayer is simply impromptu conversion with God, whether in thought or outloud.
How to lead In Spontaneous Prayer
If you are in a situation where you have been asked to lead a spontaneous prayer (for example, at the beginning or end of a meeting, or perhaps in the classroom), you may find the following tips useful:-
• Build Your Confidence - If you've never prayed publicly before, you may find it useful to begin by reciting a traditional prayer, such as the Lord's Prayer or the Serenity Prayer. This will help build your confidence when it comes to praying spontaneously.
• A stage on from this would be to write down your own prayers, and then recite these with your group.
• Finally, try praying spontaneously. It may help you to have a few things in your mind that you are going to pray before you start. Here are two tips to bear in mind as you pray:-
1. Think about how you are going to start
- this could be something worshipful or thankful e.g. "Lord, we worship you because you are the creator of everything we see and understand" or " Father, thank you that you have been so good to us this week. Thank you for your protection and care." You could also allude to scripture here - "Thank you Lord that you promise us that whenever two or three gather in Your name, You are with us".
2. You will probably have something that you are asking
for or requesting
God to do e.g. "May each of us know Your presence now" or "Please be with John and comfort him in his loss" etc.
Often once you have started praying this way then other things will come to mind, and you can add these things in as you are inspired. Allow yourself to be led by the Spirit of God as you pray. (The Apostle Paul asserts that the Spirit of God helps us in weakness as we pray - Romans 8:26
). It may also be an idea to say "Amen" at the end so people know that you have finished praying!
In the following video, Joe Paprocki, (author of Catechist's Journey) gives a Catholic perspective on spontaneous prayer. Joe suggests how we can start our prayers by using divine titles, rather than just "God", because titles remind us of the attributes of God (E.g, "God of Comfort", "Almighty and Everlasting God" etc). The second step is to recall something God has done - this could be something in the bible, or something from personal experience. Thirdly, we state why we are coming to God in prayer - this can be a time to ask God to do things for us or as intercession for others. To close the prayer we can use a traditional formula, such as "We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen" or the "Glory Be":-