Establishing the Discipline of Daily Prayer (aka Relearning How to Pray)
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I’m trying to institute the discipline of praying consciously every evening. I really suck at regularly praying: praying for myself and for others so I’ve reverted to the basics—“Our Father” also known as the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. —Matthew 6:9-13
I grew up in the Catholic Church for the majority of my youth and I attended Roman Catholic school from K through 12 so the ending phrase, “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” is not easy for me to remember or natural to me since it was not taught. Depending on what feels comfortable and genuine, I either give the addition to the Lord’s Prayer a shot (which I inevitably screw up) or leave it out.
But the Our Father is so second nature to me (and many others with a Christian background), it could be vain repetition. I could easily recite this prayer without putting any thought into it. But I’m trying really hard not to. I’m doing my best to consciously say the Our Father while thinking through what I’m saying. Another good way to do this is to paraphrase a few lines (without the Message Bible!).
And Jesus says to “pray like this,” not necessarily “this is the definitive answer on what you should pray.” He encourages us to pray along these lines addressing the following:
- To whom we are praying
- Where this God is
- An important attribute of this God
- A promise from this God
- Something that prevailsfrom this God over us as humans
- Where this God’s kingdom extends
- Request to provide for our daily needs (not wants)
- Repentance with God
- Repentance with others
- Request to exhibit one of God’s attributes (such as remaining holy and pure)
- Request to avoid Satan or evil deeds
I’m confident there’s more to the Lord’s Prayer than that, but I’m not a Bible commentator. I’m just a layperson trying to force myself to first establish the discipline of speaking to God daily with words I can speak subconsciously before moving on to crafting thoughtful, original prayers. Daily prayer goes against my nature, but especially when engaging in spiritual battle, it’s extremely necessary.
- I am able to active think about what I pray even though it could be rote.
- I do this task at least once a day. (Usually before sleep for me.)
- I pause with each phrase to let the words fully sink in and make sure I understand what I’m saying to God before continuing on with my prayer.
- At the end, I will tack on requests for others that I remember. Maybe even include a request for myself.
Establishing discipline is not easy, especially when it comes to prayer—a habit that is not natural to most people. But for many people, mindful, daily recitation of the Our Father is a good place to start.
I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on establishing the discipline of daily prayer, especially for those new to the faith or uncomfortable with prayer.