Finger prayer

Always on the look-out for ways to improve my prayers, I found this charming suggestion from the Church of England website:

Use your hand. Your fingers can be used to bring to mind different things to pray for.

this is the strongest digit on your hand. Give thanks for all the strong things in your life, like home and family, relationships that support and sustain you.

index finger
this is the pointing finger. Pray for all those people and things in your life who guide and help you. Friends, teachers, doctors, nurses, emergency services and so on.

middle finger
this is the tallest finger. Pray for all the important people who have power in the world, like world leaders and their governments, members of parliament and local councillors, the Royal Family, other world leaders and their governments.

ring finger
this is the weakest finger on your hand. It can not do much by itself. Remember the poor, the weak, the helpless, the hungry, the sick, the ill and the bereaved.

little finger
this is the smallest and the last finger on your hand. Pray for yourself.

Does anyone have any methods of personal prayer (beyond the Mormon 4-step) that they find useful? How can we avoid vain repetition and other stumbling blocks to real communication with God? Seriously petitioning advice…


  1. Steve Evans says:

    God bless the Church of England! What a great notion to take into prayer. The Queen in particular could use a prayer.

    Sometimes I like to pray in a spiral, starting on the outside of myself, moving inwards: the world, the nation, the church, the family, me. Most often, though? It’s all about me.

  2. Whoa, I definitely do not pray for emergency services enough.

  3. Yeah, I want everyone to pray for Her Majesty! Amri, you have to understand the C of E: praying for “emergency services” demonstrates their connection with the British everyday, and “emergency services” is emblematic of such tangible concerns. The C of E is good like that.

    Steve, I like the spiral idea. Mostly, the Mormon 4-step has become utterly vain and repetitious to me.

  4. Ed Snow says:

    Ronan, I like this and will recommend it to my family. My favorite:

    “Middle finger–this is the tallest finger. Pray for all the important people who have power in the world, like world leaders and their governments, members of parliament and local councillors, the Royal Family, other world leaders and their governments.”

    To which I would add–“Pray that you may use this finger wisely.”

  5. LOL. Hmmm, Government, middle finger…? It seems the Anglicans have a sense of irony…

  6. Steve Evans says:

    So the Church of England recommends giving the middle finger to the Queen…

  7. Ah, but the Supreme Governor of the C of E is the Queen. She’s giving herself the bird!

    Now, enough threadjacking, boys. Back to prayer…

  8. voodoo cult says:


  9. Mark IV says:

    Sorry Ronan. We can’t leave the subject of Brits and fingers without mentioning Lisa’s wedding episode of The Simpsons.

    Homer: So Hugh, have you heard all the latest American jokes.. uuh, here’s a good one. Pull my finger!
    Hugh: Haha, yes we have that one in England too, Mr. Simpson.
    Homer: I said pull my finger!

    My apologies, and I humbly plead that you don’t ban me for stupidity.

  10. Never. Fart jokes and BCC are a good mix.

    Now, back to prayer…

    Mr. Cult,
    You like peyote, then?

  11. Kevin Barney says:

    I used to try really hard to avoid repeating myself when giving public prayers. And I found that it was very difficult to do; almost impossible.

    This bothered me until I learned about oral formulaic language. Now I don’t stress about it so much.

    Basically, most of us would be incapacitated from praying in public if we did not have a tradition of stock words and phrases to draw on. That we do explains how even the least of us can stand up in front of a room of 250 people and pray extemporaneously without difficulty.

    Imagine if you made a list of the 500 most common expressions in prayer and told someone he had to pray without recourse to those expressions. All of a sudden it wouldn’t be so easy anymore. (And our missionaries need to remember this when teaching people to pray. It seems as though it ought to be easy, but that is only because we have long exposure to the oral tradition. We need to be very patient with those without that kind of exposure.)

    How many closing prayers have you heard without the speaker saying “and bless us that we may return to our homes safely” or some variant thereof?

    I almost cannot bless the food without saying “please bless this food that it may nourish and strengthen our bodies.” And since I’ll be blessing food many thousands of times in my life, I’ve given up trying to be creative and varying the wording every time.

  12. This is my favorite:
    Be creative – use music, a stone, a feather, a flower, or a candle to help you focus – if you are very young, or elderly, be careful with candles!

    I’ve done sweats in sweatlodges before and whatever the ‘herbs’ are that they sprinkle on the burning rocks changed my prayers. Or it could be that it’s so hot that you feel like a grape in the microwave, so inevitably my prayers changed.

    Other than that, I go for the talk about my day approach. I ramble, then I’m quiet, then I ramble some more. No pattern.

  13. I’ve long thought that Mormon worship should incorporate sweat lodges. My Book of Mormon fell apart in my club’s steam room, though, so we need some kind of work-around there.

  14. Memorization maybe?

  15. Melissa says:

    music, feathers, stones, flowers, candles, herbs . . .?

    This sounds a little like witchcraft to me.

  16. Steve Evans says:

    burn her!! If melissa weighs the same as a duck, heaven help us all.

  17. voodoo cult says:


  18. Mr. Cult makes some strong points.

  19. In the summer, try going outside and praying to the night sky. It’s awesome.

  20. I’ve been doing peyote myself, many hours a week, for the last several weeks.

    See here: My First Peyote

    I found my second time to be a great deal more satisfying and entertaining than the first.

  21. Costanza says:

    “This sounds a little like witchcraft to me.” I think it’s only witchcraft if you use a seer stone.

  22. I like this hand mnemonic very much, thanks for spreading it.

    I do my personal prayers with a digital watch in my hand. I haven’t been praying much lately, so I just keep going until I hit five minutes. I used to do ten, but I’ve been out for more than a year. It forces me to stay in the situation talking until more important things come to mind.

    I used to feel awful about glancing at my watch while talking to God. It’s not like I would glance at my watch while I was stuck talking to you. But the Lord already knows I’m weak and rude. And at least now I’m praying.

  23. Sarebear, you freaked me out for a minute there til I checked out your link.

    Prayer. I kind of fall into the patterns I was taught as a child, pretty much the Mormon-4-step, with an inclusion to bless leaders and teachers, family, friends, and those less fortunate than me. To really communicate and avoid the vain repetitions that can be habitualized so easily, I try and reflect on what it is I really want to say, what’s happened in my life that day, and who might really need to have a prayer said on their behalf at that time. Sometimes I’ve been so lazy that my prayers tend towards the “I thank thee for everything. You know what I want to say. Amen,” kind of thing, but thankfully, not very often. It really is hard to think of new ways to say things every day though, you know? And a Doe-si-doe.

  24. jothegrill says:

    I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot recently. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Henry B. Eyering’s talk in last conference talks about prayer and it was really powerful to me. When I really have time to pray intently, I’ve been trying to become like a little child. That’s what he talks about.
    I get a little repetitive in my prayers too, but I am that way in talking to my earthly parents. And every time my daughter gets to talk to her grandparents (or anyone else on the telephone) she says the same thing… that she went to the potty and that she gets candy for it. I guess my point is that most of life is the everyday things that we do over and over. Saying the same thing isn’t bad, but I think it’s good to think about what you are asking for and taking a moment to really be grateful for each thing you mention.

  25. Mephibosheth says:

    I once heard someone relate a similar mnemonic for remembering President Hinckley’s Six B’s in his talk to the youth:

    1. Thumb – is fat, had lots to eat, so he’s grateful: Be Grateful.

    2. Index Finger – you use it to point to your head when you’re thinking: Be Smart.

    3. Middle Finger – is taller than the other fingers, the air is clean up there: Be Clean.

    4. Ring Finger – has your wedding ring on it, reminds you to be true to your covenants: Be True.

    5. Pinky Finger – smallest finger, keeps him humble: Be Humble.

    6. Fingers from your other hand – use these to clasp both hands together as if praying: Be Prayerful.

  26. I enjoyed this, especially Sara’s confession of peyote use, I think I’ll try it myself. :)

    My monk friend told me a prayer, “Jesus, thou son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Sometimes that’s my prayer for the day.

    Whoever said that about the meal prayer, I agree. I always bless my food, but I don’t wax poetic about it.

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