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Creative Prayer Resources

OILS IN SCRIPTURE

BREATHING IN THE FRAGRANCE IN PRAYER

Preparation for facilitator
  • You will need to buy the oils that are mentioned below, together with cotton buds.
  • Prepare signs for each of the oils as well as small bowls for the oils.
  • Avoid having the oils too close to each other.
  • Allow room for people to share together and pray as time allows.
  • Prepare handouts or brochures using the information below and have one available for each person in attendance.

Caution:  Using pure essential oils can result in skin irritation or allergic reactions in some people, and caution should be exercised particularly with pregnant women or children under 12. Essential oils can be diluted with a carrier oil (such as olive oil, or sunflower oil) for application to the skin. It is important to be aware of the purity or “strength” of the oil and to let participants know what they are using so they can make informed decisions about participation.

Instructions for participants

  • Read about the six anointing oils.
  • Select a fragrance that you are drawn towards, or whose qualities you desire for yourself.
  • Dip a cotton bud into that oil.
  • As you breathe in its aroma, contemplate its significance in Scripture and how you desire such qualities to apply to your life. Talk it over with God.
  • Using the cotton bud, anoint the palm of your hand with the sign of the cross, or share with someone about your desires, and invite them to anoint your hand, as well as pray for you.

The fragrance will disappear, but the significance of it will remain.

Handout for participants

MYRRH

Esther bathed in the oil.

“The turn came for each girl to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their cosmetic treatment, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with perfumes and cosmetics for women.” (Esther 2:12 NRSV)

Myrrh was also used to anoint the deceased.

“Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds.” (John 19:39 NRSV)

Myrrh symbolizes purification as well as dying to self. Do you desire to be pure, being dead to self and alive to Christ?

CEDAR OF LEBANON

Cedar was used to construct the Temple and to burn on the altar with sacrificial offerings.

“The righteous flourish like a palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.” (Psalm 92:12, 13 NRSV)

Cedar symbolizes strength, uprightness and sacrifice. Do you desire such qualities in your life?

FRANKINCENSE

Frankincense was burned on the altar of incense.

“The LORD said to Moses: Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (an equal part of each), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy; and you shall beat some of it into powder, and put part of it before the covenant in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you; it shall be for you most holy.” (Exodus 30:34-36 NRSV)

“He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the curtain, and offered fragrant incense on it; as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Exodus 40:26, 27 NRSV)

Frankincense symbolizes intercession in prayer. Do you desire to be more prayerful for others?

LILY OF THE VALLEY

Lily of the valley is used as a reference for beauty and as a sweet perfume.

“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” (Song of Solomon 2:1 NRSV)

Lily of the valley symbolizes purity.

Do you desire to have a pure life that brings honour to God?

CINNAMON

Cinnamon was used in the making of holy anointing oil for dedication of Temple artefacts.

“The LORD spoke to Moses: Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, two hundred fifty, and two hundred fifty of aromatic cane, and five hundred of cassia – measured by the sanctuary shekel – and a hin of olive oil; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil.” (Exodus 30:22-25 NRSV)

Cinnamon symbolizes consecration. Do you desire to consecrate your life totally to Jesus and His ministry?

SANDALWOOD

Sandalwood is used in making instruments for worship.

“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20 NRSV)

Sandalwood symbolizes being an instrument of worship. Do you desire to be used by God in such a manner that others are blessed by your life and ministry?
Bible and candle

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PRAYER PICNIC

A PRAYER OF THE SENSES

Preparation for facilitator

This prayer time can be held as an outdoor picnic or as an indoor supper.

Read the handout information to create the shopping list. The foods chosen are Middle Eastern so that they are typical of Biblical food. The meaning associated with many of the foods is in brackets in the handout/brochure section.

Present each platter well and have soft music playing as the meal and prayer occurs. Have suitable serving dishes and equipment (for example, small cups for the grape juice, pop sticks or plastic spoons for the honey) so people can hygienically partake of the foods presented.

Allow for freedom of movement so that people can come and go from the food as well as being able to share together in prayer.

Prepare handouts or brochures using the information below and have one available for each person in attendance.

Instructions for participants

Today, you are invited to worship God using all of your senses, and especially your sense of taste as you “taste” some of God’s blessings through food and Scripture.

Prayerfully enter into this picnic experience. Become aware of the Scriptural connection with the food, and consider its personal ramifications.

It may also be appropriate for you to share in prayer with another person.

Come and taste the goodness of God.

Handout for participants

“O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone!” (Psalm 31:19 NRSV)

Bread/Grape Juice

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat the bread and drink of the cup.”   (1 Corinthians 11:27, 28 NRSV)

As you eat the bread and drink the juice, spend some time in personal examination. What is God pointing out to you?

Honey                                               

Honey symbolizes all that is pleasant and desirable.

“The ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:9b-10 NRSV)

Think about your relationship with the Word of the Lord. Are you finding the words of Scripture sweet or bitter to taste?

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is symbolic of righteousness.

“Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NRSV)

What wonderful results are you experiencing or do you expect from your prayers?

Fruit Platter

Dates (symbolic of life, abundance and endurance). Figs (Israel, Scripture), Apple (love), Raisins (sweetness), Almonds (watchfulness and promise)

“For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me...” (Philippians 1:21-22a NRSV)

Think about the phrase “fruitful labour”

What kinds of service are you offering to God? What fruit is being produced by it?

Onion Dip/Bread

“May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” (Psalm 126:5 NRSV)

Onions bring tears. What is done in service for Jesus may be difficult and quite challenging; it may produce real tears. What is your current situation?   Can you visualize positive outcomes?

Olive Oil/Dukkah

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God.” (Psalm 52:8a NIV)

What is the relationship between ‘you’, ‘flourishing’ and ‘house of God’?

Cheese Platter

With cucumber (symbolic of preservation of life) and olives (peace and healing)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God.” (Colossians 3:16 NRSV)

The richness of this platter can’t compare with the richness that Jesus offers. In what ways does God invite you to share the richness he brings with others?

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PRAYING WITH A COMPASS

A PRAYER FOR SPECIFIC LOCATIONS

Preparation for facilitator

For an individual prayer exercise, prepare a handout for participants with a large picture of a compass in the centre of the paper. Invite the participants to place the north point of the compass in the direction of true north.  It may help those who are more directionally challenged to discuss where north is in the location where you are and to run through some of the other compass points.

You will also need to provide (for the group or for individual participants) a map of your country and a map of the world.

If you want to do the prayer as a group project, create a large compass and place it on the floor pointing true north. Place sheets of paper at each of the major points and have members of the group write down issues for prayer. One time the group may pray just for their community, while on another occasion they might pray for their nation etc.  You could add photographs and newspaper reports at each point of the compass, creating prayer stations.

Instructions for participants (for individual prayer)

Using the handout you have received, place the north point of the compass in the direction of true north. Then, on the various points of the compass, write down prayer subjects from around your community (for example, a church east of where you are praying, a neighbour who lives in a southerly direction from you, a hospital in the western region.)

Align your compass with the map of your country. On your handout add prayer points that affect your country, writing them on the compass point that is pointing in that direction. 

Now, in the same way add prayer points from around the world, using a map of the world provided to assist you with this exercise.

Begin to pray, facing north, praying for those prayer points that are in that direction. Continue to move around in a clockwise direction until you have prayed each point of the compass. In this way you are facing the problem or situation as you pray about it.

 

PRAYING WITH BREAD

Preparation for facilitator

  • You will need to buy suitable loaves of bread and other foods as suggested below (dips, olive oil, spices etc.) for each prayer station.
  • Prepare signs for each of the breads as well as small bowls for the oil, dips etc. and small cups for the juice (you can get quite small plastic cups from party supplies shops).
  • Allow room for people to share together and pray as time allows.
  • Prepare handouts or brochures using the information below and have one available for each person in attendance.

Handout for participants

Scripture Focus

By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:28-32 NLT)

This breaking of bread is such a significant moment as these two travellers recognise Jesus is with them. He is their travelling companion.

Our word ‘companion’ comes from the Latin word ‘companio’,  literally meaning one who eats bread with another ( from ‘panis’ meaning bread).

The companion on the road, the one who sat with them for a meal was the ultimate Companion, Jesus, the One who still journeys with His followers, who still breaks bread and nourishes us.

You are invited to come and eat bread with others, and to come to a deeper realisation that our Companion Jesus wants to share these moments with you too.

International bread with dips

Jesus is the bread of life

 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 5:32-35 NLT)

Jesus is the bread of life; he is the One who came for the entire world, giving eternal life to all who believe. As you take some bread and dips, read the Scripture portion again and again, dwelling on “... gives life to the world.”  What significance does this have for you?

Communion loaf with Grape juice

 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” (Luke 22:19 NLT)

As you break off some bread and take some grape juice, consider the words of this song by Albert Orsborn. What does this say to you?

My life must be Christ's broken bread,
My love his outpoured wine,
A cup o'erfilled, a table spread
Beneath his name and sign.
That other souls, refreshed and fed,
May share his life through mine.

Multigrain BREAD WITH olive oil and dukkah

Bread is symbolic of life and olive oil is symbolic of renewed life, healing and consecration.

Renewal, healing and consecration are not just for one type of person or community but for the whole world and all of creation. What common threads can you discover here, between yourself and others, and creation itself as you taste these foods?

Harvest Loaf

 “Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11 NRSV)

The Harvest Thanksgiving service was an opportunity to thank our creative God for the bountiful supply of food and other needs. Part of a display would be the harvest loaf, a reminder of the daily generosity of God, and of the importance of us praying for God to provide what we need.

As you take some of this loaf, focus on your daily needs, offer them in prayer to God, and thank Him for His generosity in responding to your prayers.

spice

PRAYING WITH SPICE

PRAYER FOR THE WORLD

Preparation for facilitator

Create a display with an international focus. You could use a round table with a large globe of the world in the centre. Around it place spices that come from different continents. Some can be in small bowls while others can be displayed ready to be crushed with a mortar and pestle.  (There is something special about grinding the spice to release the aroma.)

Some suggested spices:

Europe                   Rosemary

Africa                     Cumin/Coffee

Middle East           Baharat

South Asia             Cinnamon/Curry

South East Asia     Cloves/Nutmeg

East Asia                Ginger

Americas                Chili

Australia                Lemon myrtle/Bush Spices

You could also collect black and white photographs from the internet or news services that speak of current situations in the different continents. These are then used as subjects for prayer.

If you wish, prepare a brochure for participants with specific points or suggestions for prayer.

Instructions for participants

Consider the world before you

Spend time praying for each of the continents and any specific current issues you are aware of. You may know people living in those regions that you want to pray for, or perhaps there are things for which you want to give thanks.

As you begin to pray for each continent consider the spice associated with it. How does that remind you of the place you are considering? You may like to smell the spice, crush it in the mortar and pestle, or think about its colour and appearance. Thank God for the uniqueness of each of these regions – what colour, beauty or fragrance do they add to our world.  What stinks in that region – what is not good or pleasant or right?  Pray that the things that are wrong will be changed and that good will prevail.

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REFRESH ME

DRINKING IN RENEWAL

Preparation for facilitator

  • For this prayer time, set up four displays, one for each liquid as found in the brochure.
  • You can use small disposable cups used for communion in churches or a similar small cup for taste sampling of liquids.
  • Have pieces of bread to go with the olive oil.
  • Arrange bunches of grapes with the grape juice for an effective display and similarly, a sliced pomegranate with its juice.
  • Prepare a brochure for each participant
  • Prepare suitable music to play softly in the background during the prayer time.

Instructions and handout material for participants

Many of us long to be refreshed whether that is physically, emotionally or spiritually. Refreshment is important to us as we journey through our days. In Biblical times, the liquids used in this prayer time were commonly used to refresh the body, but they also held symbolic meaning for the spiritual life.

Take time to refresh yourself by sipping each of the liquids, not just physically but spiritually too. 

GRAPE JUICE

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat the bread and drink of the cup.”   (1 Corinthians 11:27, 28 NRSV)

Take time before you drink the grape juice to “examine yourself”. What is God pointing out to you? Pray for courage to be the person God would have you be. What is the next step in that journey?

OLIVE OIL

“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God.” (Psalm 52:8a NIV)

Using the bread, taste some of the olive oil. Consider the relationship between ‘you’, ‘flourishing’ and ‘house of God’? In your prayer, ask for strength and spiritual growth in your life.

WATER

Take a drink of the cool water and reflect on the Scripture below.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me.”  (Matthew 25:35, 36 NRSV)

Have you recently offered that kind of help to someone else, or did you refuse help by word or action, or by failing to act?

Pray to God, seeking guidance as to what He wants you to do for the disadvantaged people of your community.

POMEGRANATE JUICE

Sip the pomegranate juice.  Pomegranate symbolizes righteousness. The Scriptures say:

 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NRSV)

What wonderful results are you experiencing or do you expect from your prayers?

Thank God for what He is doing through your life and ministry.

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MY SPIRITUAL HERITAGE

CONSIDERING THE GIFTS OF PREVIOUS GENERATIONS

Preparation for facilitator

This prayer time can be very beneficial where the congregation is celebrating an anniversary. You could have displays of the life of pioneers of the congregation and consider their achievements and legacy.

Scripture Focus:

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.  This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. (2 Timothy 1:5-6 New Living Translation)

In leading this time of prayer you will need to be mindful that there are those whose spiritual legacy from previous generations has been unhelpful or even damaging.  You could invite them to name what has been unhelpful for them, and to perhaps invite them to look to someone else who has had a positive impact on them spiritually.

Invite people to bring along some possession that is a family heirloom, or to bring a family tree or a treasured object.  Ask them to share the story behind the article they have brought.

Each person is then also asked to share the story of their spiritual inheritance.

  • What spiritual life has there been in the family tree?
  • What relatives, if any, or older people have been of significance to them in their spiritual journey?

A time of prayer can follow in which people:

  • Give thanks for the valued contribution ancestors or others have made by their example, teaching, or witness.
  • Ask for strength, love and wisdom to discern what they are to leave as their legacy for future generations.

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PRAYING THE PSALMS

SUPPORTING A FELLOW BELIEVER IN PRAYER

This has been prepared for two people. It enables one person to have a specific time in prayer while the other person supports them. This person is the facilitator.

Preparation for facilitator

The facilitator’s role is to prepare material for this time of prayer, support the pray-er during the prayer time and attend to practical arrangements, such as choosing a venue and providing refreshments. The facilitator chooses a selection of Psalms or other readings for the pray-er. Suggestions of suitable passages are given below.

The facilitator should choose the venue in consultation with the pray-er. It could be a beach, a walking trail, a botanical garden, a mountain top or other places where the natural atmosphere can help create a sacred space.

The time available should be divided into blocks of one hour. For each hour  it is suggested that there is 30 minutes for the pray-er  to read and pray the Psalm, 10 minutes to share some thoughts about the prayer, and the remaining time to eat, drink, relax and enjoy the environment together.

The selection of Scripture should be done with the needs of the pray-er in mind. Three to six Psalms should be sufficient, depending on the number of hours being allocated for prayer. The facilitator could encourage the pray-er to  select a phrase or verse from each reading that is significant. This can be useful to reflect upon in the coming weeks.

They may also together or separately take photographs, or make a collection of things they find along the way. These can then be used by the pray-er as a follow up to the experience, to prepare a photographic collage that may help to recall this time of prayer.         

Instead of the Psalms, there are many prayers in the Bible that could be used for such a similar spiritual exercise.

Suggested Psalms

Seeking guidance: Psalm 5:1-8, Psalm 15:1-5, Psalm 86:1-17, Psalm 121:1-8

Personal tragedy or difficulty: Psalm 3:1-8, Psalm 13:1-6, Psalm 56:1-13, Psalm 86:1-17, Psalm 141:1-10

Thankfulness: Psalm 8:1-9, Psalm 24:1-10, Psalm 63:1-11, Psalm 138:1-8, Psalm 145:1-21