Building a Personal Prayer 1: God-Words


Over a period of months and years, I built my own prayer, not for the sake of using pretty words, but as a result of my personal walk with God.  What it did for me – and still does – is put me in a place of openness and communion with God. Since it grew out of my prayer life, it helps me to center myself in my inner place of prayer.

It began in the late 1990’s and as recently as 2014, I changed one word, so it continues to be a dynamic entity reflecting the changes in my own life. Even daily use does not leave it stilted nor diminish its vitality.

This is the first time I have shared it. I hope you find it meaningful, not because of my words, but as inspiration for building your own prayer.

Focusing on God

It is essential for me to begin by focusing on God, not on my sins or my needs or even intercessions. So what is the phrase I can use that most encompasses who God is to me?

For many years my prayer began this way: “Almighty God” but then changed to “Creating God.” My personal prayer begins by addressing the first person of the trinity: “Creating God, everlasting Father/Mother…”

I meditate on each word, beginning with: Creating God

Is this what I want to say as I address God today? God is not a creator who made the world and was finished with it; God continues to create new life, new love, new beauty, new life, and on and on. I could spend a long time contemplating God’s continuing creativity.

Everlasting Father/Mother

Do I believe that God is everlasting? In terms of my own existence and experience, definitely “yes.”

What about the gender thing? This has been a difficult one for me. I was comfortable with the masculine terms for God but I knew that I was depriving myself of a fuller understanding of the nature of God by using only masculine terms. ”

It was hard! Praying only to “God” deprived me of some of the closeness of “Heavenly Father.” Then one day when I was suffering from severe menstrual cramps, I thought, “Can God understand this?” and immediately the thought shot back, “Of course She can!”  And that was that.

I am still more comfortable with “Heavenly Father” because that was the term that formed me, and it was mostly positive. But everlasting Father/Mother (or everlasting Mother/Father) reminds me that God is “both-and” – both/and so much more. Dwelling on each word in this beginning salutation could occupy me for several minutes and probably did so at the beginning.

Suggestions for building and using your own personal prayer:

  1. What words and phrases best express who God is to you?
    It doesn’t matter whether or not you begin with the first person of the trinity, or whether you think of God that way at all. Don’t expect the words you choose today to be part of your “forever prayer.” They may never be. Tomorrow or next week they may no longer belong. After all, your relationship with God is dynamic, not static.
  2. Meditate on the words you select for now. Think through each one. Let them draw you into the presence of God.

About Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith has 20 years’ experience in technical writing and management in software companies. She also has more than 20 years in Christian ministry as an educator, course designer, retreat leader, spiritual director, pastor, and coach. A United Methodist Deacon, Smith has her M.Div. from Boston University. She is a graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, and is certified in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership from Boston College.
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One Response to Building a Personal Prayer 1: God-Words

  1. Frank Ober says:

    This is very interesting to me who has not tried to come up with a prayer for getting closer to God. I appreciate the discussion re: God’s gender. Genderlessness is a concept difficult for us humans to appreciate. But, creation does not have a gender but there is gender with most living beings or at least some difference that could be labeled gender. And we are creatures of our birth which does a times, come with some confusion. This sort of fits with Richard Rohr’s recent postings around the issue of “Yes and…” peace, Frank

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