* Instead of praying "made-up-spontaneous-prayers" (which have their place), I'm suggesting you pray this scripted prayer, a modified version of the Lord's Prayer and the Great Commandment. When the disciples asked Jesus about how to pray, this is what he taught us.
* When you do pray, repeat the prayer several times - a form of meditation. As you do this, focus on a phrase, on a word that seems to lodge in your head and heart. The repetition lets the prayer settle deeper within you, sparks reflection and imagination.
* This isn't a legalistic religious task, but a spiritual formation opportunity. We are spiritual beings, and specific kinds of prayers and reflection open us up to the Way of Jesus and the direction of God's Spirit.
Here is a suggested prayer for Ash Wednesday:
Our Father in Heaven,
Holy is your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done:
To love the Lord our God
With all our heart, soul, mind and strength;
And to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.