One good book that gives guidance on how to pray is the Holy Bible. The book of Psalms, especially, contains fine examples of various prayers. Perhaps some of the best-known prayers are the 23rd and 91st Psalms, as well as what has come to be called the Lord's Prayer, given by Christ Jesus. While relatively few of the world's prayers may have ever been written down, we can certainly benefit from those that have.
And we can also pray our own prayers.
Prayer is traditionally associated with God. It can be thought of as a means of intimate communication with the Supreme Being, the heavenly Father. A prayer begins within each individual's own heart. It involves that earnest desire to connect with something beyond material boundaries - to reach out to that power many of us call God and to hear what He is saying.
You may feel you need to be quiet to start a prayer. It's tempting to want to wait until all is still and peaceful before praying. But often those moments don't come. Or when they do, we find something else to do with them.
Once, as a new mother, I was frustrated with the amount of work I had to do. I reached out to God in a silent plea. These words came to thought: "Start where you are." I must admit I was a little surprised at the immediacy of the response. But taking this as an answer to prayer, I obeyed the command, folding the clothes that lay around the baby's room, emptying and cleaning the bassinet, tidying dresser drawers, and so forth.
As I worked, I thought of the deeper significance of those words "Start where you are." Although I had applied them literally, I felt they had a spiritual meaning. Starting where we are is, fundamentally, starting from the premise that we are now and forever connected with God. We actually reflect Him, as His spiritual image. And as we base our thoughts and actions on that fact, we are poised to receive the inspired messages that meet our present need.
Christian Science, the discovery of Mary Baker Eddy, explains the profound effects of prayer in the lives of prophets, disciples, and apostles. It illumines the teachings of Jesus and shows how to make the prayer he taught practical today. It even equips you and me with the spiritual understanding and ability to heal as he did. The first chapter of the Christian Science textbook is devoted to the subject of prayer, and it states: "Are we benefited by praying? Yes, the desire which goes forth hungering after righteousness is blessed of our Father, and it does not return unto us void" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 2). Heartfelt desire for good is itself prayer.
A prayer can start with a song in the heart, a gentle tugging to do a good deed, with a loving expression, a kind thought, an earnest desire to feel God with us right where we are at the moment. Any sincere prayer leads us to see and experience more of the good that is already present - more of God's "realness" and "nowness."
Perhaps it can be said that we do not really create a prayer ourselves; prayers are already within the human heart, stirring persuasively; they are yearnings that, when heeded, give form to thoughts and the actions that express them. Prayer is never far from the ministrations of God. Opening ourselves to hear the soulful "still small voice" of God (see I Kings 19:12), we perceive His nature, seen in good, spiritual qualities that we in turn can express in our lives. Prayer reveals good as already present and acknowledges a preordained relationship between you and God. We know we have reached the heart of prayer when a glow of quiet, steadfast assurance suffuses our being. In that peace, we feel the touch of God and are blessed with what we need, including physical healing.
The world's hunger for answers to tragedy, war, famine, and personal difficulty - mental, moral, physical - is always fed when the heart surrenders to what God never stops revealing to us. Like the blush of dawn preceding the rising sun, any earnest desire to touch the hand of God awakens thought to the light of spiritual truth. In this holy communion, wherever we are, we can feel and know the healing presence of the creator.