Scrapping the Excuses: 3 Strategies for Daily Prayer
In our hectic lives, daily prayer can easily get lost in the mix. With something as important as speaking to our Creator, it’s time to find strategies that keep us praying every day.
Prayer is not to be a memorized ritual or a platitude to make us feel better about ourselves or superior to others. Prayer is, quite simply, talking to God. When building a relationship with our Heavenly Father and desperately striving to build His righteous character in our lives, prayer is not optional—it is vital. God understands that this life gets busy and stressful, but He also wants a daily relationship with His children.
As with “Scrapping the Excuses: 3 Strategies for Daily Bible Study,” the purpose of this blog is not to explain how important and beneficial it is to pray. The Bible is clear that prayer is vital. Christ makes it clear “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1), while Paul wrote that we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Daily prayer is not up for debate as to its validity; it is essential in positively building our relationship with God. It is also more beneficial than we could ever realize: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).
The purpose of this blog is to help us find ways to commit to daily prayer. After we scrap some common justifications and rationalizations for not praying every day, we can move forward with strategies that can truly work if we dedicate ourselves to putting them into practice.
Honest translation of excuses
Excuse 1: “I have trouble knowing what to say. Sometimes I end up repeating myself.”
Translation: I’m using a common struggle that Christians can have during prayer to not do what I know I should be doing, which is praying every day.
Excuse 2: “It isn’t the quantity of prayer; … it is the quality that matters. A few minutes here and there can work fine.”
Translation: God only deserves a few minutes here and there of my precious time, and that should be enough to build my relationship with Him.
Excuse 3: “There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Between work, exercise, kids, commitments—I’m so busy!”
Translation: Prayer is not a priority in my hectic, everyday life, and I’m not willing to change that.
Strategies for consistent and substantial prayer
- Find the time and then make the time: The majority of our daily prayer is best done in a private room on our knees (Daniel 6:10). We should pray on our knees whenever it is possible. As with Bible study, seeking God early is wise (Psalm 63:1; Isaiah 26:9). Here are some ideas to make sure we don’t neglect this:
- Go to bed 30 minutes early in order to wake up earlier.
- Make those in your household know that when you are in your room praying, you do not want to be disturbed for a specified amount of time.
- Use noise-suppression headphones or earplugs if you’re in a crowded or busy house. Some people are easily distracted by sounds. If you are one of those people, it is important that you take steps to minimize this from distracting your prayers.
Things will come up and start to get in the way of any organized routine, but it is our job to be committed while also being flexible.
- Have back-up plans and actually use them: As with Bible study, if problems and conflicts do arise in our schedules, then we need to be ready with back-up plans. Most of these will not be able to give us the same quality and deep conversation with God that the majority of our prayer should be, but they can supplement what we do. If the back-up plans start becoming the norm, then we need to stop and assess what has gone wrong. If we keep them only as second-string options, they will be beneficial. Here are some ideas:
- Pray for a few minutes while your car is warming up or while you are stopped at a red light or in traffic; or pray out loud if you are alone in the car and traffic is light.
- Pray instantly and silently in moments of danger, decision, etc.
- Pray while walking or lightly exercising or while in waiting rooms.
It is acceptable to God for prayer to be made in different positions and situations, as long as our most deeply meaningful prayer happens mainly on our knees in private.
- Use materials and biblical advice to ensure consistent prayer: Matthew 6:9-13 includes the model prayer, a basic outline that Christ gave to His followers in order to help them pray properly. If we read this passage, we should never “have nothing to pray about.” Also, if we search for the phrase “pray for” in the Bible, we’ll find good advice regarding what can be in our prayers. Here are some other helpful hints:
- Memorize the outline of Matthew 6 and remember to include each category in your regular prayers.
- Use a journal: Write down thoughts, things you want to remember to ask God, health needs of others, and things you are thankful for, in order to remember to include those things in your prayers.
Let’s scrap our excuses for avoiding daily prayer and start making the necessary changes to grow in this vital tool to help us draw closer to our Creator!
This is the second of a two part series on Scrapping the Excuses. For part 1 in this series, see the article “Scrapping the Excuses: 3 Strategies for Daily Bible Study”