The practice of prayer can be "the deepest decentering of the self, deep enough to begin dismantling...that burning preoccupation with myself," notes Merold Westphal. Our contributors explore how faithful prayer opens us to God's gracious activity and forms us in Christ-like ways of perceiving, caring for, and acting in the world.

Paul Griffiths reflects on the scriptural injunction to "pray without ceasing," to make every aspect of our lives a prayer. Steven Harmon shows we can learn much about prayer, and the God to whom we pray, from ancient Church practices of the "collect" form of prayer and singing the Psalter. Ruth Haley Barton heartily commends fixed-hour prayer, for it "anchors our daily lives in rhythms of prayer, Scripture reading, and silence, ensuring that we do not get too far into any day without reorienting ourselves to the presence of God."

Do prayers affect God and change the world? "To embrace prayer as a force for change," Todd Edmondson writes, "we must stop thinking of it as just a human action" and "re-envision prayer as a relationship involving God, the world God has created, and the Church."

The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to explore the centrality of prayer in the Christian life. The study guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.

Download the entire Prayer issue and the set of six Study Guides. Or, download individual pieces by clicking the titles below.



Hymn and Worship Service

Inspirational Pieces

Book Reviews

  • "Lord, Teach Us to Pray," by John Essick
    • N.T. Wright, The Lord & His Prayer
    • William H. Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us: The Lord's Prayer and the Christian Life
    • Kenneth W. Stevenson, The Lord's Prayer: A Text in Tradition
  • "Exploring the Forms of Prayer," by Bruce Ellis Benson
    • Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?
    • Steven Chase, The Tree of Life: Models of Christian Prayer
    • Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home
    • Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of six Study Guides)