I was thinking today about practices I use in my daily life to get in my quality time with the Big Man. I know as a kid that my parents had me pray before I took a nap or went to bed for the night, but now, as an adult, I find myself conking out before I have a chance to get any nightly prayers in.
Instead, I’ve begun to lean more towards spontaneous prayer. A friend asks for prayers about serious illness or personal grief? I immediately move into the introduction of a prayer that has become familiar in the past few months, “God our protector, you hold your children as tenderly as a mother holds her children…”
Or if I am visiting with someone who is scared about the course of his or her life, I say a prayer that begins, “Lord, you call us to journeys for which we do not see the ending…”
But I’m not a spontaneous person by nature. I like ritual, order, sameness. So here are three things I do to keep that ritual in my life with God.
- I sing very simple Christian songs as prayers. For example, there’s a song I know that’s based on Psalm 46: Be still and know that I am God./Be still and know that I am./Be still and know./Be. I repeat that over and over until I sense that I’m in a good place to listen. Then I pray a prayer from Psalm 19, “Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O God, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.”
- I sit and pray silently for anywhere from 15-30 minutes once I’ve done that. Now, you may love praying out loud, and that’s great. However, I feel that I pray best when I am whispering or absolutely quiet. When I’m loud, I tend to be more me-focused and less God-focused. Even when I’m praying silently though, I leave large spaces of quiet in between my prayers so I can really hear what God has to say to me. I’ll outline a diagram of how this whole process goes at the end of the post.
- I try to do this at a time when I don’t have other things to do. That’s not to say I leave God for the last thing; it often means that I lie in bed for 30 minutes in the morning before I have to get my day started to just collect myself, or I use lunchtime to pray while I eat my lunch.
So here’s a diagram of how I tackle this:
- Sing through a verse or two of a Christian song repetitively, about 5 times. If you’re in a work setting or other place not conducive to singing, just sing the song to yourself.
- Pray the prayer.
- Silence for about a minute, then thank God for the new day.
- More silence, then raise concern #1.
- Repeat for as many concerns as you have. Use the silence to listen for what God’s answer might be.
- At the end of the prayer time, end it with a prayer like this (detail it to your circumstances): “God, thank you for this time together. Help me listen to your word and to your will for my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
So what are your regular prayer practices? Send a comment about them!