Have you ever prayed by placing yourself in a Gospel scene and imagining the little details that aren’t specifically told in writing? Maybe you’ve spent your prayer time writing letters to Jesus in your journal, talking to Him just as you would to your best friend. Perhaps you feel closer to God when you pray while taking a walk outside and enjoying the soft breeze and the sunset. Or maybe you feel more connected to God when you’re sitting in a church and you can feel His presence.
You may feel as if you are weird for praying a different way than your friends do. Maybe you’ve only prayed the way that they pray, and it doesn’t feel right for you. Not to say that prayer is only about you. Loving God should always be the reason why we pray, regardless of whether or not we feel good while praying. But if there is a better way for us to pray than how we usually do, then it would definitely be good to pray the way we can feel the most focused.
I learned about the different styles of prayer after a retreat I attended last Lent. In one part of it, we took a quiz called “Find Your Spiritual Pathway Prayer Style.” There were four words in each column of the quiz, and we rated ourselves from 1-4 which words described us the best to the least. At the end, we tallied up our answers from all of the columns to see which of the four prayer styles would fit us the best.
At first, I thought that I might be disappointed with my result. How did I know that there would be one certain style of prayer that I would fit in? But when I saw which style of prayer was my result from the test, I was excited because it did apply to me, and I felt happy knowing that there were other people besides me who liked to pray that way.
Here are the four Spiritual Pathways of prayer explained.
1. The Path of Intellect
If you are someone who feels very attracted to more formal types of prayer, the prayer path you may benefit from the most may be the Path of Intellect. People who enjoy this style of prayer may feel more connected to God while praying in church, whether alone or with an organized group of people. (Note: This should not replace attending church on Sunday, nor should any of the different prayer methods.) Praying the Lord’s Prayer, or reading well known scripture verses benefit the person who fits this prayer style. People who are drawn to this prayer method benefit from reflecting on questions such as, “What does it mean to forgive?” “How can I show forgiveness?” “Who in my life is a good example of forgiveness?” etc. and seeking to understand so that they can implement them in their everyday lives.
2. The Path of Devotion
This method of prayer involves reflecting about your day or on scripture, searching to know what God is speaking to you about today, and how you feel He is telling you to apply it in your life. You then write down your thoughts and talk to God or about what He is speaking to you in stories, essays, heartfelt journal entries, poems, songs, or any other form of writing. This form of prayer feels more like a conversation with God as a friend.
3. The Path of Service
If you enjoy praying outside, or feel more connected to God when surrounded by nature, then this prayer path may benefit you the most. Also, if you consider your work to be a form of prayer and praise of God, then you may be more inclined to fit this spiritual pathway. If you fit this prayer style, consider watching the sunset as you pray. Admire nature. Soak in all the beauty around you and praise God for his creativity. As you work or do your schoolwork, offer it as a prayer to Him. Tell Him that you would rather be doing other things, but you are offering what needs to be done as a sacrifice and are doing it cheerfully in order to please Him.
4. The Path of Imagination
If you find yourself more focused on your prayers when you put yourself in a Gospel scene you are reading, then you may fit the Path of Imagination prayer method. To use this method, choose a Scripture passage and read it a few times. Then, close your eyes and imagine yourself as one of the people who were in the story: the woman with a hemorrhage, one of the weeping women Jesus met on the way to Calvary, etc. Suddenly, the story becomes more meaningful if you can imagine yourself as someone in the scene. Allow God to speak to you through the scene.
Do you fit any of these prayer styles? Do you like to pray in more than one way, or does one certain way work best for you? If you want to Find Your Spiritual Pathway, go to this link and print it out!
Madeline Elyse – Column: Encouragement & Motivation