Praying each day can be hard. There’s no shame in admitting it. Even well-known Christian leaders have admitted to finding it difficult. Pete Grieg, one of the most well-respected voices on prayer, once Tweeted “Can I be honest with you? I’m actually not into prayer.”
To clarify, he followed this with; “I’m into Jesus, so we talk.” And that’s the thing. Often our view of prayer is all mixed up. Maybe you’re under the impression that it is a religious ritual. But it’s actually the way we communicate with a God who loves us and wants to spend time with us.
Even then, it’s not easy, not least because the busy-ness and distractions of life can quickly take our attention away. So how do we build a daily prayer habit and why is praying each day important?
This guide should give you some ideas on how you can better integrate prayer into your life.
Why is praying each day important for Christians
To many people prayer doesn’t come naturally. Maybe you see it as a chore or something you used to do at the end of a school assembly or before dinner. Or maybe your only experience of prayer is praying when you really need something or are in a spot of bother.
If this is the case you’re not alone. There’s no question that speaking to a God we cannot see in silence and solitude is not easy. But it is unquestionably an important part of being a Christian. We covered some of the benefits in another post, so we won’t go into detail here.
They included getting closer to God, reducing anxiety, hearing from God, and even bringing about miracles.
The Bible also gives us plenty of reasons why it’s important. In the Gospels, the only thing the disciples ask Jesus to teach them is “how to pray” as we see in Luke 11:1. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul dedicates a single verse to the instruction, “pray continually”!
Jesus was also a man of prayer. He turns to prayer at numerous times throughout the gospels, and often goes to a solitary place to do it such as in Mark 1:35. If the son of God recognises the need to pray often, then it must be important for us.
The act of praying also isn’t just for our benefit. By seeing the world through God’s eyes and leaning into his heart we can bring about the rule and reign of the King of Kings. E.M. Bounds, one of the pre-eminent writers on prayer said “God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.”
Building a prayer habit
We know why prayer is important, but how we do it regularly is another matter.
Well, like anything, you can make a habit out of prayer. Unfortunately, good habits are often the hardest to build. It requires work initially to build positive habits, but once you get there it becomes more natural and instinctive.
Often the reason why you find a habit difficult to maintain is because there are too many obstacles to getting it done and too many reasons in the moment to stop you from doing it.
So, we need to try and make it easier. Here’s our top tips for making it easier and building an everyday prayer habit.
1. Set aside a time and a place
Making prayer a regular part of your week involves intentionally setting aside time and space in your day for it.
This might mean picking a spot in your house that is comfortable, easy to get to and somewhere you’re unlikely to be disturbed. Remember, most of the time when Jesus prayed, he went to a ‘solitary place’ – see Mark 1:35. Making it a place you enjoy being in will make using it so much easier.
Maybe, to get to this place of sitting and praying you need a process. One of the ideas explored by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, is the idea of ‘habit stacking’. This basically means preceding the difficult thing you want to do, with a chain of other actions that are straightforward and give you quick wins. We’ll give an example in a moment.
The other thing to decide is what time you’re going to do it. For a lot of people this is first thing in the morning. But that won’t work for everyone. Maybe your best time is lunchtime or the last thing before you go to bed.
It doesn’t really matter when it is. The point is making it work in your day.
So, for example, let’s say your time is first thing in the morning. A process that could make this easier is first having a shower and getting dressed, pouring a glass of water or a hot drink, then sitting down in your designated comfy chair to pray. If you’re incorporating Bible reading into this, leave your Bible and/or journal next to the chair so you have one less thing to think about – it’s there, ready to be picked up.
2. Pray what’s on your mind
Another thing that a lot of people struggle with is what to pray for. When they sit down any good intentions are replaced by countless thoughts, swarming around your brain.
Not only is this a distraction but you might assume that this stuff is getting in the way of the proper stuff you’re supposed to be praying about.
The good news is that because prayer is about being in communion with God and not about ticking a religious box, we can pray about anything. We don’t have to have a neat plan full of perfectly worded, poetic prayers full of direct Bible quotes. Whatever it is that you’re thinking about, God wants to hear about it.
In fact, in Romans 8:26 Paul says “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” This is a comforting idea that whatever our state of mind, God sees our heart and can interpret what we want to say to Him.
3. Use a structure or prayer prompts
Alternatively, you could follow a pre-determined structure to help you pray. If you’re really struggling to focus it can help to have a structure that covers different areas, from thanksgiving to worship, repentance and intercession.
The Lord’s prayer, rather than being a specific prayer that Jesus prayed is perhaps the greatest blueprint we have.
The ‘Lord’s prayer’ as written in Matthew 6:9-13 and other Gospels is actually a great starting point for all of our prayers. You could just go through this and expand on each part, relating it to your life and going where the Spirit prompts you.
Structure can actually expand our prayers rather than restrict them. Having prompts to jump off can help us home in on what we want to pray for. Having nothing at all, can lead to vagueness and ambiguity.
One thing that could revolutionise your prayer life is realising that we don’t have to do all the work.
Another misconception about prayer is that it’s reliant on us and the words we say. But it’s also about listening to what God has to say to us. In John 10:27 it says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” We often forget about this part.
Listening to God doesn’t necessarily mean hearing the audible voice of God but rather getting a sense of what it is God has for our lives. It may surprise you.
It may also help to have some light music or sounds on in the background of your prayer time to help your mind to stay focused.
5. Use an app
Music to help you pray is just one of the many features in the Glorify app.
One of the functions of the Glorify app is to help you build a daily prayer habit, whether by doing our daily devotional and building streaks or picking one of our meditations in the Listen tab. You can also add your own prayers to the Prayers tab and join in with prayers happening around the world.
Sometimes what we need a helping hand to pray every day and we’re fortunate that digital tools like Glorify provide us with that.