Here's an excerpt from essay on prayer I'm currently writing for my degree program :
Three Sundays a month for seven years I closed my eyes, bowed my head, lifted my arms in supplication, and prayed without self-consciousness or script. No creeds. No prayers from a worship book. My parishioners prayed together only one prayer––and not as a rote ramble, but as living words, often sung––the prayer Jesus taught his disciples, The Lord’s Prayer. The rest we created in worship.
In my religious tradition, we invite prayers of the people. I listened to rambling stories, teary requests, mumbled worry, celebration of milestones, and less frequently, thanks. Summarizing and repeating for the congregation, so all could hear, I felt myself lift their joys and concerns out of our midst into a realm of spirit I felt intimately connected to. After worship, people often said to me, “Cathy, you do such a good job with the prayer time.” But I never saw it that way. It wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about job performance. I planted my feet and claimed the posture and attitude of prayer. I held holy space. I observed silence and focused on breath. (The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach, breath.) Others followed. We did not share our lives out of prurient curiosity or even for the sake of community building. We prayed because it was the least and the most we could do for one another. We prayed because we were God’s people, communicating with God in one of the few ways we knew how.