How to Practice Everyday Prayer
“Pray without ceasing!” This was God’s command to the Thessalonians and to us.
We need the rhythm of regular, everyday prayer
Everyday prayer is about keeping the conversation going with God throughout our day. One classic work on this topic was written by Brother Lawrence who worked as a French cook in the 1600’s. His book is called The Practice of the Presence. He writes, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”
Some of the most helpful everyday prayers for keeping the continual conversation going are one-liners found in Scripture. These are short Biblical prayers that can keep our hearts and minds before God as we hustle from one obligation to the next.
“Jesus Son of David have mercy on me”
“Lord have mercy on me a sinner”
“Here I am Lord”
This last one is from Ananias and his response to Jesus in Acts 9. There are lots of other places like Genesis 46 and Exodus 3 where God’s people pray this way. It is a simple statement that helps us draw near to God.
Pray while you shower. Pray while you cook. Pray while you dress. Pray while you commute. Pray while you work. Pray while you play. Pray without ceasing.
Saint Patrick was famous for teaching the Irish to pray everyday prayers. You can see a collection of these here. Here is one Celtic prayer for waking up from St. Patrick’s Breastplate
“I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,”
Brother Lawrence also wrote, “He does not ask much of us, merely a thought of Him from time to time, a little act of adoration, sometimes to ask for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, at other times to thank Him for the graces, past and present, He has bestowed on you, in the midst of your troubles to take solace in Him as often as you can. Lift up your heart to Him during your meals and in company; the least little remembrance will always be the most pleasing to Him. One need not cry out very loudly; He is nearer to us than we think.”
He pictured himself as a beggar covered with sores coming to God as a great king. He then pictured God himself receiving him graciously. He writes, “this King, filled with goodness and mercy, far from chastising me, lovingly embraces me, makes me eat at His table, serves me with His own hands, gives me the keys of His treasures and treats me as His favorite. He talks with me and is delighted with me in a thousand and one ways; He forgives me and relieves me of my principle bad habits without talking about them.”
Lawrence called these everyday prayers, “Little acts of interior adoration.”
In his commentary on 1st John Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones wrote about prayer. He has some helpful insights.
“The first question that John seems to raise is this: what is prayer? Well, I cannot think of a better way of describing it than these two words which we have at the end of 1 John 3:19 ‘Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.” That is prayer; prayer is coming before Him. Now, we are always in the presence of God- ‘in him we live, and move, and have our being’ (Acts 17:28) – and we are always under his eye. But prayer is something still more special. Prayer is having a special audience and going immediately and directly to Him – ‘before him.’ Prayer is something in which we turn our backs upon everything else, excluding everything else, while for the time being we find ourselves face to face with God alone. There is a sense in which one cannot expound it further; it is just that. When I get on my knees in prayer, then in a sense I am doing nothing, I am submitting myself, I am abandoning myself before Him.”
One way to do this is to take a psalm each day and use it as a guide. I recommend starting today with Psalm 3.
What Happens When We Do?
One of my everyday prayers last year was for God to guide my life. I was overwhelmed with the needs around me. My everyday prayer was “Lord which need do you want me to meet?”
A big part of everyday prayer is listening. As I listened to God, he impressed on my heart a church planter that I knew in the Middle East.
So I began to rally others to bless this church planter and join his efforts to help Syrian refugees. I reached out to two men in my missional community for confirmation. They agreed this was something God was leading us to do, so we planned a bike ride fundraiser. We called it Ride for Refugees.
As we invited people to ride, and we invited local businesses to support it we were praying all the time.
As a result of those everyday prayers, the ride succeeded in funding two homes for two refugee families in the Middle East. The church planter built one over the summer. One of those men from my missional community built the second with me in December. It all began with everyday prayers here at home while I was on my commute, answering emails, or walking my neighbor’s dog.
Pray without ceasing. God has promised “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” Jeremiah 33:3
As we grow as disciples in the everyday stuff of life, how has everyday prayer shaped your life on mission?
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