There are at least 30 different major types of prayer, and all of them have variations – so choosing a form that is suitable for you right now can be a confusing proposition. It might help, though, if you think about assessing the different prayer forms in terms of how much effort they require of you along three different axes: the degree of Verbal Effort they need, the degree of Imaginative or Cognitive Effort they require, and the level of Volitional or Intentional Effort they require.
Verbal Effort refers to the amount of energy you have to put into coming up with the words that you’re using to pray. Good evening prayer is the most demanding prayer form along this axis. Capturing the spirit and the emotion of a moment in words, in order to express them back to God, requires a lot of internal testing and fitting and trying. Using set prayers, on the other hand, like the Book of Common Prayer, requires very little Verbal Effort.
Imaginative/Cognitive effort refers to the amount of visualization or believing you have to do for the form of prayer. Ignatian prayer, by way of instance, relies almost entirely on Imaginative work. You start by imagining a Biblical event – typically in the life of Jesus – as vividly as you possibly can. Then, you put yourself in that situation and hang around until Jesus talks to you. In contrast, praying the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me” demands very little Imaginative work.
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Volitional/Intentional Effort refers to the level of focus a form of prayer requires, and the steadiness with which you have to keep your will. Centering Prayer is the primary example of this. In Centering Prayer you use only one word, and no conversational work. In as far as is possible, you disengage from your thinking process and let it run without feeding it – only observing it. However, you maintain a goal before God to assent to whatever He wants to work in you. Praying in tongues, on the other hand, requires very little Volitional Effort, because you are surrendering your will about what you are praying over and even the language you’re using into the Holy Spirit.