Daily prayer needs to fit easily into your life so you can receive God’s help every day. Here are the top ten secrets of how people do daily prayer. Choose the ones that work best for you.
Daily prayer secret 1: Pray on the go
Having daily prayer time while doing a routine task such as commuting is a great way to do daily prayer time because you already have the time on your schedule. Praying on the go also helps you make double use of your time. And finally, connecting prayer time with something you do nearly every day keeps you from forgetting to pray.
The most popular on the go daily prayer time is while driving or riding to work or school. Other popular on the go daily prayer times include while exercising or doing routine tasks. I call this daily prayer on the go pathway praying because you do while moving physically.
Every weekday morning as soon as I wake up I do a 2 1/2 mile morning walk/run. I do daily prayer as I walk – praying for people who are sick, thanking God for blessings, asking God to take care of my family, confessing my mistakes etc. In addition, I later do a very short daily prayer for God’s protection while putting on my makeup every morning using the whole armor of God as outlined in the Bible in Ephesians. (see Ephesians 6:13-17)
Daily prayer secret 2: Subscribe to a daily prayer email or use a daily devotional book
One way to have daily prayer time is to sign up for a daily email that sends out prayers or inspirational thoughts to your device every day. Another daily prayer idea is to purchase a daily devotional or prayer book. If you choose to go with a daily prayer book, be sure to establish a specific time and place when you will sit down and read it each day.
Daily prayer secret 3: Use arrow prayers
A great way to have daily prayer time is to use short arrow prayers throughout the day while you’re in the middle of activities and you need on-the-spot wisdom or help. For instance, many people shoot up an arrow prayer when hear a siren – they pray for the unknown person in need of and/or for our first responders.
One salesman I know uses arrow prayers when he’s about to enter an office doorway where he’s making a sales call. You can incorporate arrow prayers for God’s help and presence with any daily task, such as every time you open your email.
In addition, arrow prayers are especially effective at moments when you need a God’s help or grace in the middle of the action, such as when someone says something to you that needs an honest reply, when a child has a meltdown or when something goes wrong with your car or your computer.
Daily prayer secret 4: Create a personal prayer space
Creating a personal prayer space in your home or office is another way to ensure that you’re in the daily prayer habit. After breakfast, I go to our living room and sit down in an antique rocker for a short period of prayer and meditation. Beside the rocker I have a small box that contains my Bible, a pair of reading glasses and papers with the names of people I want to pray for. Because this is my personal prayer space, I have small pieces of religious art in a china cabinet near my chair that help me feel a sense of reverence and closeness to God.
One of my friends had converted a walk-in closet in a spare bedroom into her personal prayer space. Another friend has a large comfortable chair on her glassed-in porch with devotional books on an end table. Another person I know arrives early at her office and logs onto a prayer website.
Daily prayer secret 5: Visit a place of beauty or sanctuary
You may be fortunate enough to have a peaceful place near you or along your daily route that you can visit regularly for your daily prayers. One of my favorite places near my house is a small pond where I stop and look out over the sun rising over the trees and reflecting on the water. One man I know sits quietly on his back deck near a bird feeder. A retired neighbor goes to mass every morning.
In a big city, you may be fortunate enough to have a church around the block from your office where you can go and sit quietly during lunch hour. Whenever I’m traveling I find that spending a few moments in a beautiful cathedral or church is an amazing way to keep up my daily prayer time while traveling and also connects me in a very special way to the area I’m visiting.
Using these types of daily prayer settings is very conducive to meditation and contemplation, which is a very calming way of prayer that takes you away from your daily troubles and closer to God.
If you can’t use a place of beauty or sanctuary every day for daily prayer, you might try to mix this type of prayer setting into your schedule on different days, such as weekends. Although daily prayer thrives on routine and habit, daily prayer can also be greatly enhanced by adding variety into the mix.
Daily prayer secret 6: Get up early to pray
Many people who successfully keep up with daily prayer get up early before they need to start getting ready for the day. To start out, you might set the alarm fifteen minutes early and then gradually increase the time as needed.
There are many obvious advantages of getting up early to pray. Your mind is fresh and you haven’t yet started thinking through all of the problems that will face you during the day. Another advantage is that it helps set your mind with a positive attitude for the day. Waking up early also gives you a time that’s free from distractions from phone calls, emails, texts and children needing breakfast. And it also helps you commit your plans for the day to God before your day gets started.
Jesus was in the habit of getting up before dawn and going out to a lonely place to pray before everyone else woke up. (see Luke 4:42) Many prominent Christians throughout the ages got up early each day to pray such as John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who got up at 4 AM each day to pray.
I personally get up at 6:30 AM for my prayer walk, which is half an hour earlier than I need to get up to be ready. I glance at my phone to see what the temperature is outside so I’ll know what to wear, but I don’t look at texts or emails to keep my mind from getting cluttered. Other people sit down in an easy chair first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee. It’s quite effective to pair prayer with a cup of coffee or tea since this is something you usually do every day.
Daily prayer secret 7: Pray the hours
Praying the hours is an ancient Christian practice that enables daily prayer. If you visit a monastery, you may be invited to join the members of the religious community during set times about three hours apart for formal group prayer. You may have heard of vespers, which is the name of the evening daily prayer time at 6 PM.
This type of prayer is called praying the hours, the divine office or liturgy of the hours. During these prayer times participants use a guidebook to repeat psalms, scriptures, prayers and responses. There are books that cover the different church seasons, such as Advent and Christmas and Lent and Eastertide. Early Christians developed the practice of praying at certain hours during the day as a continuation of the Jewish practice of praying in the Temple at set hours daily. An example from the Bible is when Peter and John go up to the temple at 3 in the afternoon for prayers and heal a crippled man on the way. (Acts 3:1,2)
If you’d like to try praying the hours during personal prayer, there are many resources you can use. You can purchase a book, download an app or use Youtube.
I was introduced to praying the hours when a friend sent me a book on praying the hours before Christmas. I chose to pray the morning and evening hours and enjoyed praying the Psalms and asking for God’s presence and mercy.
On another occasion, the same friend and I went on a weekend retreat to a monastery. Part of the retreat format was to join the monks in the chapel for the liturgy of the hours. As is the custom in the monastic tradition, the huge bell in the chapel tower clanged for several minutes to summon us to each prayer time. At this particular monastery, the monks have other jobs, such as teaching or doing woodwork, so they came in regular work clothes during the day but came in their robes for morning and evening prayers.
Daily prayer secret 8: pray continually
The Bible tells us to pray continually. (I Thessalonians 5:17) But how can we do this when we have tasks we need to do and obligations to meet? Over time people have developed many ways of keeping prayer going throughout their busy day.
One technique is what I call having a running conversation with God. In this technique, you open up their thoughts and feelings to God as the day goes on as if you are narrating your life to him. When you see something beautiful, you thank God for it. When you feel fearful, you tell God how you’re feeling.
Another technique of praying continually is practicing God’s presence. This idea comes from the writings of a monk called Brother Lawrence in the 17th Century who consciously decided to include God’s love in every small act and deed he did such as scrubbing pots in the kitchen. Brother Lawrence says, “Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.” The process involves dedicating each deed to pleasing God instead of pleasing yourself or others.
I decided to follow Brother Lawrence’s advice and started briefly mentally telling Jesus how wonderful he is and how I love and adore him whenever I saw something pretty such as when I was driving and saw sunshine through the trees. I liked the idea that the least little remembrance is pleasing to God.
Daily prayer secret 9: Use a written or memorized prayer
Using short memorized or written prayers is a good way to do daily prayer. There are many popular written prayers that you can use. You can use traditional church prayers, such as the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. You can also use popular prayers such as the Serenity Prayer. Or you can choose a prayer written by others, such as the following morning prayer written by Martin Luther:
“I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.”
You can also create your own daily prayer such as the one I learned from an 89 year old widow who prays every morning, “Lord, go before me like a leading lamb and behind me like a guarding angel. I don’t know what the day holds, but I know you hold the day.”
Daily prayer secret 10: Keep a prayer journal
Using a prayer journal is another great way to pray daily. Writing down what you’re praying can help you keep focused as you pray and can provide a record of what you’ve prayed about so you can see how God answers. It’s also a great way to keep in the habit of praying because you’ll have a record that you have prayed each day.
There are a number of different approaches to prayer journals. One is to make a list of requests. Another is to actually write out your prayers as if you are writing a letter or email to someone. Others are praise journals where you write down answers to prayer and things that you’re thankful for. Some combine a little of all of these.
I often use my journal to write down a situation and then write a personal prayer about it. I also write down answers to prayer and number each one.
About this article
Recent polls show that prayer is the number one religious prayer practice in the US because so many people pray often. That’s because people might only attend a religious service once a week or once a month, yet they might pray privately nearly every day during the week.
Daily prayer is something that many people want to do because it helps you de-stress by bringing you closer to God and his helping presence. It’s healthy for your body, mind and spirit.
As with all other daily practices, daily prayer works best when it becomes a good habit. Experts say it takes somewhere around 66 days to make something a habit that you do without having to think about it or having to consciously make a decision to do it.
My daily prayer walk, which I mentioned earlier in this article, has become a weekday habit for me. I get up and immediately put on my walking clothes and head out on my walk. The walk combined with the prayer time leaves me energized and gives me a positive mindset for the day. When I’m not able to walk when I need to leave home much earlier, I really miss my prayer walk and can’t wait to walk again the next morning.
As we’ve discovered in this article, you don’t necessarily have to be sitting down in a quiet place with your eyes closed to do daily prayer. The key to daily prayer is to find a prayer mode that fits your personality, communication style and schedule.
As an example, one woman who has ADHD told me that she had always felt unable to pray daily because her mind wandered when she tried to sit still and pray. She started writing down her prayers which suited her much better because she was actively doing something with her hands and body.
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Copyright Karen Barber 2018. All rights reserved.