We all know we should do it but hardly any of us discipline ourselves to do it every day. Daily prayer is one of the hardest habits to develop – and stick to. Just knowing that daily prayer should be something we do is not going to make it happen. Just like with all other spiritual disciplines, you have to train yourself. And just like with all other aspects of our Christian walk, we have an enemy who does not want us to succeed and a self that wants to look after its own pleasures instead of the things of God.
The main step to making daily prayer a habit is to make a commitment to pray. Make a decision that no matter what is on your to-do list, no matter what distractions the kids or friends or family bring, no matter what happens, you will pray.
Set a time for it when you are starting out. Tell yourself that you’ll first thing in the morning, the last thing before bed or the first ten minutes of the lunch hour, or set an alarm for whenever – just schedule it. Spontaneity will come as you grow. One of the enemy’s favorite tactics is to tell you that if you schedule prayer then it’s not genuine, it’s forced. It’s just a tactic to keep you from praying. How many times have you decided to pray every day spontaneously but ended up not following through because things just got in the way?
Something else that is helpful in establishing a lifestyle of daily prayer, though not entirely necessary, is to set aside a specific place to pray, even if it’s a corner of a room. When you step into this area, you are setting a boundary between yourself and the rest of the world, you and God are closed off for however long you want to pray, and no one else is allowed to interfere.
In line with that, take out any distractions. Lock your door, turn off – as in shut down, not just silence – your phone, turn off the TV, etc. Be prepared. Keep a drink beside you so you don’t have to get up for water. If it’s winter, keep a blanket nearby. When you sit down to pray you will find that a million things will come up that you absolutely need to take care off if you do not make the effort to shut them down before you actually get into prayer.
Don’t be over-ambitious. If you’ve never prayed for an hour and you decide that that is what you are going to do, you will probably fall asleep after the first ten minutes. Take it slow. This is not a race or a sprint. Daily prayer is a lifestyle habit. It’s okay to slow it down and do just five minutes. Or ten minutes of prayer and ten minutes of reading the Bible. If it feels awkward to talk to God aloud, then write down what you want to say. Don’t just say it in your mind though because before long you will find your thoughts have veered off prayer and are on your to-do list and you won’t know how you got there.
Don’t be so caught up in the quantity of time that you forget to spend quality time with your Father. This is about you and him, no one else. Just talk to him. If you have nothing to say, then tell him that. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sit in silence and ask him to speak to you if you need to. On the other hand, if your prayer time is ten minutes and you find that you just cannot do it one morning, then by all means shorten that time to a one minute prayer before you head out the door. Just don’t skip it altogether. Remember it’s quality not quantity that matters.
At the end of the day, your daily prayer time is all about you and God. There is no right or wrong way to do it. What matters is that you do it. It will take time to make it a habit so don’t give up even if you fall off the wagon. Just get back on. No lifestyle of prayer was ever built overnight and certainly no one ever did it consistently the first thousand times they tried to do it. Rely on God for strength and you will get there.