I work for the Catholic Church. One of our goals is to help students develop their faith lives, so we try to expose them to different prayers, types of prayer, and ways to pray.
But let me tell you: Modeling spontaneous prayer is tough. It’s hard enough to speak in public without vocal fillers, let alone when you’re also praying and trying to help other people pray. I’m always looking for ways to get better at my job, so I was delighted to find the method the Church uses for liturgical prayer distilled down into one simple method.
It’s called You-Who-Do-Through. Joe Paprocki of Catechist’s Journey lays out the details in three posts. First, you direct your prayer toward God or any specific member of the Trinity by any of many titles: Father, God of all creation, Lord of life, and so on.
Next, you “remind” God of something he has done or does now. These can be events from the Bible or less specific: who led the Israelites out of slavery, who is the only just judge, who loves us unconditionally, who called Mary your servant to be the mother of Jesus.
Then comes what is often the longest part of the prayer: you tell God what you want him to do. Bless this meeting and us your servants; fill us with hope; heal all those afflicted with cancer, mental illness, or other disabilities.
Finally, end with an intercession, the person through whom you make your prayer. That’s usually Jesus (“Through Christ our Lord”), but it can also be through Mary or one of the other saints. It never hurts to give your prayers a little extra boost!
Jonathan F. Sullivan created a great handout that summarizes the method [PDF link], but it’s easy enough to commit to memory pretty quickly. I wound up sharing it with my students spontaneously (which, in retrospect, is appropriate for teaching spontaneous prayer), and they took to it very quickly. One of my boss priests even commented positively on it. The students challenged me to model it on the spot, and I totally did it. Give it a try!