By Heather Riggleman, Crosswalk.com
Prayer is a conversation with God. It’s how we communicate our hopes, dreams, fears, and burdens. If your prayer life is feeling a little stale or you are new to the Christian faith, adding a tool or method to your prayer time can create a more intimate moment with God.
Some Christians use the Psalms and other Scriptures like the Lord’s Prayer. Others use the S.O.A.P. method, (Using a journal to write out the Scripture, Observe what it says, Apply it to your daily life, Write a prayer), others use the ACTS (A prayer of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). Yet, another tangible, simple tool is the five-finger prayer.
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What Is the Five-Finger Prayer?
The five-finger prayer was written years ago by Cardinal Bergoglio before he became Pope Francis! It’s a great tool to teach children and adults how to pray because this method acts as a methodical visual. Not all of us are wired to be still and silent before the Lord. According to some studies, 65% of us are visual learners, meaning we learn better from pictures, graphics, and illustrations. If this sounds like you or if you’re a kinesthetic learner who needs touch and movement, the five-finger prayer is the perfect tool for you. It acts as a visual tool to help you remember all the categories of people to pray for.
How to Pray Each Part of the Five-Finger Prayer
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3
Each finger represents a category of people in our lives and gives us the opportunity to ensure the needs of others are lifted up. It’s easy to go to God when something is bothering us or we have a burden, but God’s word directs us to pray for each other, for those in authority over us, for the poor and those in need, and for the lost and hurting. It can be hard to remember all of these needs which is why your hands are such a great visual. This prayer pool helps us hold each person in the palm of our hands as we lift them and their needs up to God for His grace, wisdom, strength, and healing.
As you begin your prayer time, you can either sit somewhere private and quiet as you focus on your hands, or you can go for a walk. As you pray, you will focus on one finger at a time. I prefer to touch my thumb to each finger as I pray.
No matter which way you stand or sit while praying, your thumbs will always be the closest finger to you. This is your signal to begin praying for the people close to you such as friends and family. This is often the group of people we tend to want to bring before the Lord and they are easier to remember. You can either use your thumb as a visual cue or use another finger to touch your thumb as you pray for members of your own immediate family, other relatives, your friends, and other people who are close to you. Take your time as you lift up each person. Pause and take a moment to listen to what God may be communicating about your loved one too.
The finger next to your thumb is called the pointer, the pointing finger or the index finger. That's because most people point with this finger. Use this finger to remember to pray for those who “point you in the right direction.” This reminds you to pray for those who heal, teach, instruct, and guide. People that fall into this category are your mentors, counselors, policemen, firemen, coaches, small group leaders, teachers, and your pastor. They need prayers of protection, prayers for wisdom, and prayers to continue to keep their hearts soft towards the discipline of Christ.
The Tallest Finger
The tallest finger reminds us to pray for those in positions of power. Those in hold positions of authority include your boss, leaders in government, and leaders in business. Also pray for your state, your governor, your nation, and international leaders. Pray for Israel and Christians who are facing persecution worldwide. Your prayers should include prayers of protection, guidance, and that they listen to the Lord’s leading.
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The Ring Finger
The ring finger is the weakest finger, it has the least amount of dexterity. Because it’s the weakest, it serves as a reminder to pray for those who are weak, the homeless, the needy, those who are in trouble, or in pain. It serves as a reminder to pray for the least of us. They need prayers of God’s protection, provision, healing, and His strength.
The Pinky Finger
The last finger is the pinky. It’s the smallest finger and serves as a reminder to pray for ourselves. We can use this moment to thank God for His blessings, the way He loves us, the little ways He grabs our attention throughout the day. It’s important to ask God to open your eyes to any sin areas in your life or whether or not you need forgiveness because sin creeps into our lives in so many unexpected ways. Seemingly innocent comments or behaviors can become grievances and idols. His word reminds us that we are to remain in Him so that we may bear much fruit and help build His Kingdom. This part of our prayer lives is especially vital as we keep the words of John 15:7-8 in mind:
“If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”
As you pray for your own needs, ask God to give you His desires, and to pray for His will done be done. Spend time thanking Him for the people in your life and ask Him to help you be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Benefits of Using the Five-Finger Prayer
The five-finger prayer is a great tool to teach our children how to pray. And it’s a great tool for us when we need to spend a few minutes alone with God. We don’t need a pen and paper. We don’t need prayer beads or anything else. We just need a willing heart and our hands—two things we will always have with us no matter where we are. One key reason we pray is because God not only calls us to pray, He commanded us to pray. Where does the Bible call us to prayer?
Several passages include:
“Pray continually” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” -Ephesians 6:18
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” -Colossians 4:2
“Pray for those who persecute you” -Matthew 5:44
“And when you pray …” -Matthew 6:5
“This, then, is how you should pray …” -Matthew 6:9
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” -Romans 12:12
“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone …” -1 Timothy 2:1
The benefits of prayer result in God’s power to bring about change. James 5:16 reminds us, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Prayer allows Christ-followers to harness the power of Christ and focus His mighty power on the burdens of our hearts. It allows us to unleash His strength and wisdom in the lives of others. And when we use the five-finger tool as a method to pray, it can create a consistent prayer life that unleashes the power of God all around us.
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