"To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world," theologian Karl Barth once said. Prayer is a tried and trusted way of encountering God and of being in communion with him, and it's a vital part of the Christian faith.
Sometimes, though, it can be hard to find the words to say. Here are three ancient prayers to help refresh your prayer life.
The Jesus Prayer
There are various versions of this one, but they all go something like:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
It's based on the way that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, and the essence of the Jesus Prayer, asking for God's mercy, is related to one of the earliest prayers of the Church – the Kyrie Eleison, which literally means 'Lord have mercy'.
The Jesus prayer began in Eastern Christianity, and is believed to have been developed by the Desert Fathers and Mothers.
A prayer of Saint Augustine
Saint Augustine lived between 354 and 430 AD, and taught extensively on the subject of prayer, urging Christians to back up their prayers with actions that express their faith. He wrote the following prayer, which speaks of God's love and perfect goodness:
Look upon us, O Lord,
and let all the darkness of our souls
vanish before the beams of thy brightness.
Fill us with holy love,
and open to us the treasures of thy wisdom.
All our desire is known unto thee,
therefore perfect what thou hast begun,
and what thy Spirit has awakened us to ask in prayer.
We seek thy face,
turn thy face unto us and show us thy glory.
Then shall our longing be satisfied,
and our peace shall be perfect.
The Lord's Prayer
Many of us will have grown up reciting the Lord's Prayer – taught by Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 6. Because of its familiarity, it's easy for it to become stale, and for us to say the words without thinking about what they mean.
Author Sheridan Voysey has some brilliant thoughts on how to pray through the Lord's Prayer in a new way, to help you get the most out of the words first said by Jesus himself.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.