Conversational Prayer Expressed. Just as we converse with different people through a variety of different means, we also talk with God in a number of ways that inevitably reflect our unique culture, our tradition, our depth of experiences, our own personalities and even our temperamental mix—none of which should be construed to be automatically right or wrong. Some cultures may be very vocal and repetitive in the way they verbalize their prayers, others might tend to be passionate and loud when they come together as a community, engaging in simultaneous outbursts of intercessory prayer. More liturgical Christians prefer written prayers or responsive, antiphonal ones that employ the text of Scripture, especially the Psalms. Others gravitate toward the more quiet expressions of conversational prayer channeled through prayer partnerships or small group settings.
The most popular style of conversational prayer, practiced by the majority of Christians regardless of denominational affiliations, seems to be petitionary or intercessory types of prayers. Under these two major categories, we might add warfare, or deliverance prayers, including *healing prayer. The other common prayer rituals include praise, adoration and thanksgiving, practiced both privately and communally.
One expression of conversational prayer that has been rediscovered by Christians of varying traditions is the Prayer of Examen popularized by the Jesuits, who are themselves celebrating a revival of Ignatian spirituality. The examen is, in many ways, dialogical in nature as it engages the person doing it in some kind of personal spiritual inventory of his or her day with God via an imaginative conversation with God while actively utilizing one’s senses.
For the most part, one can safely conclude that many Christians, particularly Protestants, are generally comfortable in their practice of conversational prayer. The truth is, for a large segment of Protestantism, it almost appears to be the exclusive way of approaching God in prayer. We know, of course, that this need not be the case. Prayer is a multifaceted experience.
Wil Hernandez, “Prayer,” ed. William A. Dyrness and Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Global Dictionary of Theology: A Resource for the Worldwide Church (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic: An Imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2008), 701–702.