simply pray

Simply Pray is a lovely book on how to understand the power of prayer: ask, seek and knock! This simple concept from Matthew 7:7 is known the world over. Now the author masterfully weaves her own story (from desperation and divorce) to hope and healing with Biblical principles and Scripture. With over 30 years of answered prayer in her own life, Deb demonstrates how every concern, is worth bringing to God.

Prayer doesn’t have to be a mystery. Nor does it have to be for the super-religious person. Jesus gave simple directions for anyone to pray, and this book unpacks how anyone can make prayer a part of everyday lives.

God listens and cares about any issue we bring to him, and can also bring you peace from relying on Him, rather than always focusing on carrying the burdens of life yourself. More than a simple prayer ABC, this book includes prompts at the end of each chapter, to experience prayer for yourself. Try it today, and make prayer of your daily life. It may just change your life!

Deb Hopper has been married for almost 30 years (and is a mother and grandmother). But before that she reached breaking point spending 10 years as a single parent, which saw her begin a powerful prayer journey. She even launched a non-profit to help single mothers on their next times.

Our Lady undoer of knots Blair Piras

Blair Piras

No matter what your faith is, it’s always good to make a little time for prayer. Even you’re a fire-breathing atheist, take some time to just wonder at the universe, rather than always thinking of this world. All ancient cultures use prayer, and when John Robbins journeyed to the four longest-lived cultures on earth (communities in Chile, Japan, Russia and Pakistan), he was surprised to find none of them even knew what an atheist was, even though they were fairly remote from established religious churches.

It’s interesting that in these stressful times, although we have moved away from the ‘fake New Age gurus’ who try to sell us ‘faith and happiness’, increasingly we are also moving away from ‘hell and fire’ churches, and yet returning to the real faith of prayer. Irish nun Sr Briege McKenna was once asked how to pray. She said it’s a bit like sunbathing. You simply go somewhere you feel at peace with God, and kind of do the same – just sit and be, and absorb your faith and that’s prayer, rather than parroting off prayers you learned in childhood.

where to find nice prayers to pray

Blair Piras is an American Catholic artist, who offers lovely images of Jesus and favourite saints, with prayer cards on the back. These are nice to carry on your person (especially when travelling) or just to keep by your beside.

Pray As You Go is a gentle Catholic site where you can pray along each morning. However, the site also has some lovely music you can listen to, which you’ll likely enjoy, whatever your faith or belief. Just find the songs you like and click through to listen online.

Poor Clares (Ireland) is a closed order of Catholic nuns, who wrote a very popular book Calm the Soul, based on their popular music. They have nice prayers on site, by nuns who between them have very interesting histories. From former campaigners to accountants, you can read their biographies on-site from how they ended up here, after quite a few heavy partying days!

Hallow is the world’s most popular Catholic meditation app, created by a former atheist. Choose your guide, length and personal prayer plan, and even choose background music (like Gregorian chant). Includes a 30-day free trial, to see if it works for you.

The Ave Treasury of Catholic Prayers

the Ave treasury of Catholic prayers

The Ave Treasury of Catholic Prayers is a beautiful gift book, which instead of boring you with huge tomes of religious dogma, just gives you nice prayers to keep by your bedside, when you need some spiritual inspiration and help. A timeless resource, it features a variety of devotions, psalms and litanies to showcase the diversity of voices and traditions that have been part of the Catholic faith for over 2000 years. This hardcover, full-colour volume includes:

  1. Our Father, Hail Mary, Creeds & Confiteor
  2. Prayers to talk with God through the day
  3. Sacraments of Reconciliation & Holy Communion
  4. Devotions & consecreations to Jesus, Mary & Joseph
  5. Prayers from saints (blessing, petition, intercession, thanksgiving & praise)

Elegant, vintage lithographs and engravings taken from traditional prayer books, psalmss and Bibles are presented in a contemporary design, to add to the beauty of the book. And an index makes it easy to find prayers, based on the saint or topic of devotion.

Pause and Pray is a book of reflections, prayers and actions for everyday life. Inspired by the traditions of St Francis of Assisi, each of the dozen prayers include a brief reflection and a simple action, to make your everyday life more prayerful. The book is divided into sections including prayers for:

  1. Care for creation
  2. Love
  3. Family
  4. Gratitude
  5. Joy & wonder
  6. Forgiveness
  7. Sorrow & grief
  8. Acceptance
  9. Patience & peace
  10. Courage
  11. Compassion
  12. Social justice

Each page is designed to give you space to pause, reflect prayerfully on an intention, and take that intention with you into the world, with a concrete action. If you’re seeking a way to make daily life more prayerful, this is the book to integrate prayer into everyday life.

an Ignatian daybook for spiritual living 

small simple ways

Small Simple Ways is a wonderful book that offers compassion and encouragement to lift you up through 52 weeks (in 4 week sections) of spiritual growth, as taught by St Ignatius of Loyola. Each day connects you with an aspect or action of a healthy spiritual life including:

  1. Compassion
  2. Discernment
  3. Generosity
  4. Gratitude
  5. Integrity
  6. Courage
  7. Good habits
  8. Humility
  9. Joy
  10. Openness
  11. Wisdom

Sundays are reserved as a day for resting our hearts in God.

Through practice and repetition of these basic thoughts and actions that build upon themselves throughout the year, the book will help you step into your future with God.

  1. God in All Things (weeks 5 to 8)
  2. The Examen (weeks 9 to 12)
  3. Gratitude (weeks 13 to 16)
  4. The two standards (weeks 17 to 20)
  5. Spiritual freedom (weeks 21 to 24)
  6. Consolation (weeks 25 to 28)
  7. Desolation (weeks 29 to 32)
  8. Imagination (weeks 33 to 36)
  9. Emotions (weeks 37 to 40)
  10. The physical senses (weeks 41 to 44)
  11. Reflection (weeks 45 to 48)
  12. Love (weeks 49 to 52)

Ultimately, this book proposes to help you recognise grace each day, challenge you to take one action each day to live out your faith and accompany you with encouragement, with suggestions for next steps and reminders of God’s presence, mercy and abiding love.

Compassion: We think of compassion as a character trait, and we assume that some people are just naturally compassionate. But any virtue requires that we practice until it resides easily in our personality. When you see someone today – a person you know or a total stranger – silently ask ‘What is this person’s struggle today?’ Then offer this simple prayer: Help that person through the struggle.

Courage: Not the absence of fear, but the willingness to keep going, despite fear. Not all courage is dramatic. Pause for a moment and try to identify what you fear. Can you find the courage to choose to move into your day despite it, perhaps with a simple prayer for help?

Good habits: I can choose to include influences that will help shape me into the person God created me to be. I can choose daily prayer, regular conversation with people who encourage and teach me, and engagement in a community that helps me live out my faith.

Also read The Spirituality of Transformation, Joy and Justice (a wonderful exploration of the Ignatian faith, based on spiritual exercises developed by St Ignatius of Loyola of Spain). And The Ignatian Guide to Forgiveness 10 steps with stories and a powerful prayer for healing).

use Ignatian Examen to change your life

No matter what your faith, the Catholic Ignatian order has a very useful practice to help you live your life better. Called ‘the daily Examen’, it’s basically a five-step process that was practiced by St Ignatius Loyola, a Spanish saint to help you see God’s hand at work in your whole experience. There are many Catholic orders (Franciscians focus on helping animals and the planet, Dominicans are more intellectual). Ignatians would be the ones that ‘ask you to use God’s gifts to help others). The idea is to:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence
  2. Review the day with gratitude
  3. Pay attention to your emotions
  4. Choose on feature of the day, and pray from it
  5. Look toward tomorrow

Ignatian spirituality also has good advice on how to make a decision (something we all often struggle with). This is a simple 11-step process that looks at the reasons for making the decision, how to weigh up the options, who to talk to, Scripture to read and how to ‘let go and let God’.

The Ignatian site Pray as You Go (which offers lovely free meditations with music to start your day) has lots more information on Examen including an end-day prayer to reflect on your day – it’s deeper and more meaningful than just ‘staring at the wall meditation’.

beautiful Devotionals for bedtime reading

Pilgrim Ruth Chou Simons

No matter what your faith, it’s always nice to go to bed reading a chapter of a beautiful Devotional. Rather than depressing news or social media feeds. It helps to remind us that (mostly) the world is good and full of good people. And having a faith (most people do, even in remote areas of the world) can often help, when life is feeling like it’s too much to bear, especially with present events.

Pilgrim is a beautiful devotional by celebrated artist Ruth Chou Simons, featuring 25 ways God’s character can lead us onward. Leave each day as a pilgrim, travelling the path that Jesus sets before you. Though the road may be rocky, God provides reminders along the way, to show that He writes your story, paves your path, and walks with you always. The book features stunning art alongside 25 devotions to help you:

  1. Explore proof of God’s faithfulness in both Scripture and holy life
  2. Engage with key theological attributes of God
  3. Encounter hymns from history to illuminate timeless truths
  4. Experience peace, from focusing your heart on God’s character

The book reminds us of profound truths, by showing us how God’s grace shape each person’s unique journey, of conforming to the image of Christ. Knowing God’s character can make all the difference. When your travels leave you worn and weary, God will not abandon you. You can lay your burdens in His hands, find hope in His presence, and follow His path as He leads you onward.

Fields of Joy is a book combining 58 Scriptures with hand-painted art and a short heartfelt truth to direct thoughts, to find joy in your Saviour. A book to help transform your mind and shape your heart, find true lasting happiness, in a world of countless counterfeits.

These short meditations encourage you to preach truth to your own heart. Find encouragement in Ruth’s words, to learn to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’. These powerful reminders of God’s faithfulness will drive you to depend further on His Word, and find lasting peace.

sacred belonging

Sacred Belonging is a different kind of devotional, more deep and intelligent than most of the fodder churned out in bookstores. One trauma therapist says this is ‘a devotional for all of us who feel cringey about devotionals’. In 40 days, let Cuban-American theologian Kat Armas show how reading the Bible with fresh eyes, allows us to experience God in new liberating ways.

There’s a hunger for a new kind of Christian devotional that speaks to a more liberated faith that also is more inclusive to women and people of colour. Drawing from personal narrative and Scripture, Kat highlights Biblical passages that point towards themes on creation, wisdom, spirit and the feminine.  A faith where we belong to God, the earth and one another.

Kat’s other book Abuelita Faith is also an interesting read, on how strong women can be inspired by the unnamed and often overlooked theologians in society and the Bible – mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters, whose survival, strength, resistance and persistence teach us the true power of faith and love. Kat herself grew up on the outskirts of Miami’s Little Havana neighbourhood, with her earliest theological beliefs coming from her grandmother, who fled Cuba during the height of political unrest and raised three children alone, after her husband passed away. She shows us how voices on the margins (people often dismissed, isolated or oppressed due to their gender, socio-economic status or lack of education) have more to teach us about following God, than we know.

Kat lives in the USA with her husband (a white male with a bright red beard, who’s covered in freckles). He regularly reads black literature and educates himself on black culture, then writes short stories about how he imagines their experiences to have been. He also once walked out of a church when the pastor (his boss) told Kat she had not asked for permission to read the Bible with some girls in church. This is real Christianity!

 

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