Take the time to pray. No matter how you pray or whom you pray to, it can be difficult to find time for prayer during busy times. One way to deal with this is to make prayer part of your daily routine, such as praying as soon as you wake up in the morning, right before you go to sleep, or before every meal. There is no wrong time to pray.
Many people pray during emotional times, like when they feel sad, scared, or happy. You can pray at any time of day, and as much or as little as you feeel is sufficient for your spiritual life. Some people make it their goal to maintain a state of prayer all the time by remaining conscious of their spiritual connection throughout the day.
Find a good spot to pray. You will find that you can pray anytime, anywhere, anyhow. It may help to be in a place where the focus is on spirituality (such as a church or temple) or where the environment reminds you of your spiritual bond (like a natural setting, or a spot with a big view). You can choose to pray in the presence of others, or you can pray privately. For some religions, meditation is a standard form of prayer (or, sometimes, prayer is a standard form of meditation). Finding a place where you can have quiet time for yourself and feel connected to your spirituality is an equally respectable form of prayer. Whether an open field or a bowing congregation zens you, find your “place of worship”.
Know your purpose. Often, prayer accompanies a ritual, giving purpose to the prayer. It can be a simple, thoughtful utterance in thanks for a meal or just being thankful for what we have. It does not have to ask, plead, question or thank; all it must do is appreciate. Prayer can be a conversation, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Prayer does not have to have anything to do with you. We can intercede for other people for faith, protection, healing, sadness, depression, etc.
Understand that prayer does not have to involve crafted, reflective silence. It can be virtually anything. Praise and worship, song and dance have long been parts of many religions’ repertoires of prayer. Even some Christians pray while exercising their body! Whatever gets you closer to your spirituality, your God, can be an activity of prayer. If a runner’s high gets you there, fantastic. If curled up in your sheets does, great. You can scream at the top of your lungs and dart for the hilltops if it makes you appreciative, full of wonder, or thankful.
The Act of Prayer
Get into your prayer position. This depends on the belief you have, if any. Sometimes expressing your thoughts physically can make the experience more complete. People vary in how they position themselves during prayer: sitting, kneeling, lying down on the floor, hands folded, clasped, or raised high, holding hands with other people, head bowed, dancing, prostrating, whirling, swaying, and so on. Some people even pray with their eyes open; and some closed. Every religious person has beliefs that feel right for them. What feels right for you?
Prepare for praying. Dependent upon your belief, you may have a ritual way to prepare for praying. You may find that it gets you in the right mindset. Prepare in whichever way you feel is comfortable or appropriate. All around the world, people are washing feet, anointing with oil, ringing bells, lighting candles, or fasting.
Begin the prayer. You can pray by speaking out loud, thinking, singing, etc. Some prayers are recited from memory or read from a book, while other prayers are more like conversations. You may open the prayer by calling on the God(s) or Deity(s) you are praying to, and asking for help (or whatever your intention).
Make the request, ask the question, or just make your voice heard. You can ask for answers, seek strength, send good wishes to others, or give thanks. Perhaps the most basic forms of prayer are requests for help in becoming a good (or better) person, and requests that your deity(s) direct your prayer. There is no length of time necessary for a prayer. Clearing your mind and becoming silent can be a useful part of prayer. Don’t feel the need to be constantly thinking, talking, or listening for messages. You may find a clearer mind that has the answers in contemplative silence.
End the prayer. Some people end or close the prayer with a special word, phrase or a gesture, or simply by standing or sitting in silence for a minute or two, or saying “Amen.”