I am writing a short series of blog posts about prayer. Two weeks ago I explained why I pray. Last week I described how to pray before a meal. This week I will dive a little deeper. I am going to share my prayer habit. Once again I want to reiterate that I am not claiming to be a great man of prayer. In fact, the opposite is true. I have struggled to establish a regular prayer life. The good news is that I have been able to form the habit of daily prayer which means that you can too.
My own struggle with prayer
Years ago when I tried to establish a prayer habit I failed. The main reason was that I made it complicated. I thought it was important to spend a really long time in prayer, to use fancy words, and to quote a lot of scripture. This approach did not work well because I am not good at any of these elements. My mind starts to wander after a few minutes. I bet that many people have the same struggle. Some Christians I know say that they pray for up to an hour in the morning. Others they say they mediate for a half-hour. I am not sure how they do it. I know that I do not have the discipline to pray for that long. It simply is not in me no matter how hard I try.
Matthew 6:7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
I am not good at quoting scripture
I am also not good at using fancy Christian terms. I actually know what a lot of them mean. But, it just does not come naturally for me to say them when praying. Lastly, I am not good at quoting Scripture. I did not grow up in Church and have never been good at memory verses. Not sure why. I have read the Bible multiple times. Guess I did not pay enough attention while reading.
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
God listens to us when we pray
The good news is that none of those things really matter much to God. At least I do not think they do. I have a feeling that God just wants to hear from his children. I cannot picture God sitting on his throne in heaven saying to himself something like “I cannot believe that Doug forgot to acknowledge me as his omnipotent father today while praying.” Instead, I picture God leaning in to listen whenever I call out to him. In fact, that is exactly what David says in the Psalms:
Psalm 17:6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Keep it simple
Nowadays I keep it simple when praying. It does not take me long, I do not use fancy words, and I rarely quote scripture. The most important point is that I get it done. Every morning after I have showered and drunk a cup of coffee I pray. The coffee helps to make sure that I am awake and my mind is working. I follow a simple approach. It consists of a few basic components – my posture, my gratitude, and my requests.
Psalm 88:13 Lord, I call to you for help; every morning I pray to you.
My posture for prayer is on my knees
When I pray I do so on my knees. I am somewhat reluctant to share this with you. I am not Catholic. I am a Protestant. I pray on my knees because it is a posture of humility. I feel like I am clearly demonstrating to God that He is greater than me. He is God and I am not. He deserves my reverence. I do not think poorly of people who pray sitting down, standing up, walking around, hands raised, or hanging upside down for that matter. This posture simply helps get my mind in the right place before I speak. If you can pray on your knees, I recommend that you do. Some may say that you like a child when praying on your knees. My simple answer is that you are a child – a child of God.
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
First I show gratitude
When praying I start by thanking God for the many blessings in my life. This list is long so I do not thank God for absolutely every blessing. Instead, I simply list what comes to mind. In case you are thinking that you do not have anything to thank God for I recommend you spend some time reflecting on all the good things in your life. For me, blessings that come to mind are my kids, my family, my parents, my girlfriend, my brother, my health, and my job to name a few. Some days I simply thank God that I am alive and have a roof over my head.
James 5:13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.
Next, I request God’s help
After I am done thanking God for his blessings I then request God’s help. It may sound silly or stupid, but I think it is important to make specific requests to God for his help. No need to beat around the bush – simply tell Him what help you need. My list varies a lot. I may ask God to touch and heal someone I know that is suffering. For example, Oma recently went through eye surgery. I ask God to touch and heal her eye so that she does not experience any pain and can see better.
Psalm 102:17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.
It is okay to pray for your own needs
If I have something difficult to deal with that day I will ask for God’s assistance. If I am struggling I will ask God for help. If I know someone is going through difficult times I will ask God to help that person. For example, I have a friend who is going through a difficult divorce right now. I pray for her. I know what that is like, and how challenging divorce can be. I figure she can use whatever help she can get.
Psalm 4:1 Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
You can ask for the same thing everyday
There are several things I ask God for his help with every day. For example, I ask God to watch over you boys every day – to keep you safe and away from harm. I ask that God comforts my parents in their old age. As Opa likes to remind me, getting old is no joke. They need comfort, so I ask God to help them. Lastly, I always ask that God help guide me during the day so that I make wise decisions and avoid stupid mistakes. Do I still make bad decisions and mistakes like everyone else? Yes, I do – plenty of them. But I am comfortable sharing that there have been multiple occasions when I was really close to making a stupid mistake and I heard that still quiet voice saying to me, “Don’t do it. You will regret it.”
Luke 11:9-10 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
I am done in few minutes
My prayer habit does not take long – a few minutes a day. Would praying longer be better. Probably. But, this approach seems to work well for me so I am offering for you to consider. I encourage you to make prayer a daily habit. I am convinced that it will help you in multiple ways.