Prayer can help keep a sense of perspective, through listening to the ‘still small voice’ of God and finding peace and nourishment. It’s a great way of nurturing your relationship with God, who strengthens, heals and comforts us.
Prayer and meditation are proven to keep you in good health and reduce stress, which is very important at university with all those essay deadlines and exams!
It might be you find it hard to have a regular prayer life – you’re not alone! At university, you may worry that you’ll have even less time to pray, or be more distracted, and pray less.
Here’s a few tips to maintain a healthy prayer life.
- Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated and long-winded. Just talk. God doesn’t mind if you stumble on your words, or you forget what you were saying mid-sentence!
- Try meditating. Meditation can be doing something as simple as emptying your mind of all thoughts and concentrating on your breathing, or contemplating one aspect of God or your faith. Concentrating on one aspect of God, or one word, is called ‘Centring Prayer’. You could concentrate on the repetition of the word ‘love’ or ‘peace’.
- Make prayer a part of your routine. The Daily Examen is a simple prayer that you can do every night before bed. You begin by reviewing the day with gratitude, then choose a feature of the day to reflect on specifically. Use your reflection to channel your prayer – do you want to thank God for that feature, or ask for forgiveness for example? Finally, look forward to what you have to do the next day and ask God to be with you.
Prayer with others
Studying the bible and praying with others is important too. In community, we learn from one another through sharing and discussing, which helps us to grow as Christians. Jesus said ‘wherever there are two or three gathered in my name, I am there’.
- ‘Lectio Divina’ is a good way of combining prayer, community and Bible study. You choose a passage of scripture and read the passage through twice – prayerfully, and each time by a different person. Going round the group, each person says a word or phrase which stood out for them. Then, each person talks about why that word or section stood out, and this can be followed by discussion.
- In Buddhist traditions, you find the practice of prayer flags. Traditionally they are coloured panels of cloth, printed with prayers and messages that are strung up along mountain ridges to spread good will and compassion. As a group try creating your own prayer flags – prayers of thanks, hope or protest, written or painted on to cloth.
‘Your prayer life can really blossom at university. Mine did. With so much time on your hands and so much going on, there is never a bad time to pray. Pray in the shower (your secret weapon!), during study, on your own or with others. Find different and creative ways to bring prayer into your life.’ Liam
Ruth is the Faith in Action Project Worker for SCM. She works with local groups and individual members to enable them to think creatively about faith, injustice and action.