Like most evangelical Protestants, I prayed extemporaneously, addressing God as a Father, Friend, and Brother, as well as Almighty God of the Universe.
We seldom used any kind of rote prayer, believing that such prayer was vain repetition. We did pray the Lord’s Prayer a few times a year in a corporate setting, and we were encouraged to pray it in our own words in our prayer closets.
We also were taught to pray the Bible, and often I would take passages or chapters and pray it out loud to the Lord.
I prayed with groups of Christians in prayer meetings and Bible studies. I was always comfortable with praying out loud. I prayed with children a lot in the many children’s ministries that I did. Many of us had prayer partners, women that we prayed with on a daily basis.
Many of us kept a prayer journal.
I prayed whenever we sang. To us, singing and prayer were the same thing. So much for all the Catholics who believe that Protestant singing is “happy clappy hootenanny music”–I would suggest these Catholics learn the facts and get to know some real Protestants instead of making up things about them based on prejudice. (Yes, you’re right–I get very upset when Catholics criticize Protestant music and singing and make mean-spirited comments about it.)
We were strongly encouraged to have a daily “Quiet Time” or “Morning Watch” or “Daily Devotions” time, during which we would read the Bible, praise the Lord, and pray. At times, this “Quiet Time” became almost legalistic, as those who did not do it were considered “carnal” or “fallen away.” In our theology, people didn’t lose their salvation, but if they practiced sin, or if they didn’t practice certain good works, we said that they were probably never Christians to begin with. So in our view, those who didn’t have a regular Quiet Time were probably not really Christians. I agonized over this, as I found it very difficult (especially after our children were born) to have a regular Quiet Time. Often I worried that I was not really a Christian.
A book that would help you to understand how Protestants pray is Evelyn Christenson’s great book, What Happens When Women Pray. This is basically how I prayed. While I was growing up, Mrs. Christenson’s husband was my Senior Pastor, and my mother was friends with Mrs. Christenson. Every lady in the church was friends with Mrs. Christenson. Her book is a classic–read it, and you will understand Protestant prayer. Here’s her website: evelynchristensonministries.org/
The Holy Spirit led me and my husband together into Catholicism. The Holy Spirit prepared us both for 47 years for our conversion to Catholicism. The actual process was initiated, I believe, in 1988 when we went to the March For Life on the “Catholic bus” out of Raleigh, North Carolina, and a lady on the bus prayed a Rosary for us in honor of my husband and daughter’s birthday (Jan 22, Roe v. Wade decision). I believe that the Holy Spirit used this as a starting point, and over the next 20 year, worked with us to bring us to a point where we were willing to convert. What precipitated the actual decision to convert was being kicked out of our evangelical Protestant church after many years of active and faithful service.
My prayers have changed because I now pray more of those “rote” prayers that I once considered mere repetition. I have come to see the truth of Romans 8: 26, that the Holy Spirit prays for us. I feel that the traditional prayers and the prayers of the saints enable me to allow the Holy Spirit to work in me, instead of me just giving God a list.
I also implore the saints and angels to pray for me, especially my patron saint, St. Ruth, as well as my friend, St. Anthony of Padua, along with St. Cecilia. This is something that very few evangelical Protestants do or even believe in. I know that there are Protestants who come to believe that the saints are praying for them, because they have had personal visions in which they saw and heard a saint praying for them–this happened to my mother-in-law, a Pentecostal evangelical Christian. So never assume anything about Protestants.