The Christian tradition of prayer is about both words and silence. One hymn writer, James Montgomery described prayer as "the soul's sincere desire". St Paul wrote of prayer as 'sighs too deep for words'. The priest and poet, George Herbert, spoke of 'something understood'.
More recently, in an interview, Rowan Williams described prayer as sunbathing, or basking, in the presence of God.
SCALA seeks to support those working in schools who want to induct pupils into the Christian tradition of prayer – understood either as fixed verbal forms for use in public worship or private devotion, or as the prayer of silence.
Both words and silence are hallowed ways of prayer in the Christian tradition.
Increasingly, though, Christians are redisovering the importance of silent reflection and contemplation as ways of prayer, both individually and corporately. Helpful guidance for individual prayer, drawing on the Benedictine tradition of monastic spirituality, is offered in Abbot Christopher Jamison’s recent book 'Finding Sanctuary'.
Many religious communities and retreat centres across the country maintain a routine of prayer and offer guidance on prayer. For instance, try Worth Abbey, Sussex (www.worthabbey.org.uk) or Launde Abbey, Leicestershire (www.launde.org.uk). Full listings are available at www.retreats.org.uk.
A new website has been set up at www.findingsanctuary.org to provide further guidance for those attracted by the monastic tradition’s approach to prayer.
For those who are more attracted by fixed forms of prayer, and by an invitation to their regular daily use, the forms of prayer for morning, evening and night prayer from the Anglican tradition are available on the Church of England website at http://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/join-us-in-daily-prayer.aspx
There are prayers for those who want to pray especially for peace, justice and reconciliation at www.invitationtoprayer.org. This site includes both fixed forms for prayer and a helpful section called ‘How do I pray?’.
For guidance on daily prayer in the Jesuit tradition, go to www.sacredspace.ie or try www.pray-as-you-go.org. This site offers both prayers and brief passages of Christian scripture which are designed to take altogether a ten-minute space in the day.
For guidance on prayer and worship for school students, go to our Chaplaincy section.