Last week I posted about starting an intentional prayer streak of daily prayer. Yesterday I challenged members of Resurrection to become more intentional in praying for our congregation and the world. (You can listen to the sermon here until January 14). Today I want to provide some basic prayer practices that can enhance your prayer life.
Intentional: most habits are formed when we make it a priority and intentionally schedule time and energy for it. If we want our prayer life to deepen we need to schedule an intentional time and place to pray. Many people find the first thing in the morning best; others prefer the evening. I know one person who made sure to leave for work early so he could have fifteen minutes to pray in his office parking lot. I pray just after my morning run. I have my Bible and prayers placed near my prayer chair so I am ready when I return.
Written versus Spontaneous. Most of my prayers for Sunday morning worship are spontaneous with a basic mental framework to guide me. However my daily prayers are now a mixture of written prayers and silence for more spontaneous prayers. Having both allows me to stay focused and keeps my mind from wandering as much. I also plan to change some of the written prayers on monthly basis so as to give it some variety and freshness. This month I am using Psalm 130 and the refrain, I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope. I wrote more about using written prayers here.
Relaxed: My goal in prayer is not to finish the liturgy as quickly as possible but rather to spend time with God. Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10. During the moments of silence, I simply imagine God being close to me, His breath matching mine own. If my mind wanders I acknowledge the wandering thought and bring it back to prayer and being with God.
Consistent: We certainly can pray at any time. Paul calls us to pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17). People often practice” bullet prayers”, asking for God’s guidance, strength, or intervention in quick snippets of prayer throughout the day. Such prayers are not wrong, but should not be confused with developing a deeper intentional prayer life. As an analogy, bullet prayers are like calling yourself a runner, when the only running you do is to sprint from the parking lot to the office door during rain storm. To become an honest runner you need to consistently take time to lace up your running shoes and run. To become a disciple of prayer you consistently need to take time to step off the daily treadmill and be in prayer. Fifteen minutes on a daily basis will do wonders for your soul.
What other prayer practices have worked for you?
What time or place have you found most helpful?
Lord Jesus, teach me to pray.