When You Need to Pray, and Don’t Know Where to Start, Start Here

Even if you don’t consider yourself religious, I’m sure you pray. I think everyone prays at sometime — and here’s a look at research by the Pew Research Center about who prays, when:

For many Americans, every day is a day of prayer. More than half (55%) of Americans say they pray every day, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, while 21% say they pray weekly or monthly and 23% say they seldom or never pray. Even among those who are religiously unaffiliated, 20% say they pray daily. Women (64%) are more likely than men (46%) to pray every day. And Americans ages 65 and older are far more likely than adults under 30 to say they pray daily (65% vs. 41%).

As a mom, you’re crazy if you don’t pray — there’s too much to leave to chance. And with many of our kids heading off to college, we need to have a talk with them about the importance of creating this daily prayer habit everyday. It will keep them grounded, give them direction as they face the many multitudes of transitions, and bring them peace. The more you pray, the better your life will be. Besides — nobody wants to call on God only when you need him — he may not recognize us! That’s a joke/exaggeration, because God knew us when we were secrets — when know one else even knew we were there. (Take a peek at Psalm 139:13.)

But, when it comes to praying, it’s tough to know where to start. There are hundreds of books on prayer, several methods and acronyms about how to do it, and what order — but prayer does not have to be so complicated. But in general, one thing is clear — you need to create some space for it to happen, and you need to allow time for God to speak to you.

God primarily speaks through his Bible — which seems to be alive. It’s the only book I’ve found that seems to take on a life of its own, as certain words do seem to jump off the page, and wake me up — although it’s in a passage I have read before, and noticed nothing before

There’s another reason to include the Bible into your prayer time: God loves it when you “pray scripture back to him.” This is a process that is just as simple as inserting your name, or someone else’s name,  into one of God’s promises. So, instead of saying, “Do not be anxious for anything,” you pray, “God, please don’t let John/Me be anxious for anything, as I come to you with my prayers, and let your peace that passes all understanding rest on John/Me.” Philippians 4:6

Praying like this can save you from exhaustion, and bring instant peace. The Bible seems to say things far more succinctly  and efficiently than we ever could. There are even pocket-sized reference books with indexes for specific problems (everything from finances, infertility, finding a job, sickness and anxiety) that you can use to find the specific scriptures you need.

Yet adding in a brief time of “Bible reading” tends to make a daily prayer time much more complicated and suddenly a simple prayer practice seems to take so much more effort, because then you have to spend time deciding what to read, how much to read, how much time to spend reading versus  praying — it’s endlessly complicated. The enemy loves to keep us fussing about it instead of actually praying.

Recently, I just uncovered a daily prayer method that has a definite start and finish time, includes a daily scripture, which you can complete in under 15 minutes. The best part is,  it’s automatically updated each day — in fact, several times a day — and people all over the world are praying the same scriptures — and that brings power to your individual prayer that is tough to resist. There is morning, noon, evening and Compline (late night prayer) and you just jump in wherever you are.

Still, I personally resisted this method of prayer, (too easy?) for several weeks for the following reasons:

  1. I hate rituals. I think prayer should be personal, and from the heart. So, I made it non-ritual. Whenever I come to a part of the scripture that resonates with a specific problem I’m having (several times a session), I turn it into a personal prayer.
  2. I’m not Catholic. Then, I learned that even John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church participated in the Daily Office. In fact, the words, “catholic church” in the Apostles Creed are not specific to the Catholic Church — it’s a generalized term for the Christain church.

With those two issues settled, I admit I was attracted by the idea that this method of prayer is already set — I could focus on the actual problems I’m bringing to prayer, and stop worrying about how to pray, and what to read.

I also was very intrigued with the idea that this method was established in 1549, and has been alive and active in churches and homes ever since. It is a proven method that works. Here is a very comprehensive explanation of what The Daily Office is all about, along with its history.

And, this is the method I want to teach my boys — it doesn’t have to be their exclusive method — but when they’re too busy to pray, I want them to have a resource they can pull up on their phone and read — always ready.

Sadly, most Protestants dropped the idea of daily prayer at the start of the industrial revolution:

With the Industrial Revolution and urbanization, people lost rural rhythms that permitted regular corporate prayer. Individualism continued to spread, as did a voluntaristic approach to faith. Growing literacy and mass production of literature also made private devotional material more widely available. By the 20th century, few Protestants saw any need to pray together each day.

But today, with the Internet making the Daily Office instantly accessible, and with a deeper understanding and appreciation of its ability to simplify prayer, more people are turning back to this ancient method of prayer.

Before the Internet, the Daily Office was contained in heavy volumes that were expensive and not portable. Now we have the Internet that makes it accessible.  This website is my favorite way to collect the Daily Office — the page is automatically updated, and it includes beautiful art, as well as photos of suffering in the world that I can include in my prayer — events I may not have been aware of before. The writers of this site seem very “kind” and they also include links to live services — which I have yet to watch.

There are so many different resources that offer the Daily Office online –each one with a different personality, yet all containing the same passage and prayers.

Here is a site that lists Daily Office Apps.

And here’s a list of other web pages:

  • The Upper Room Daily Devotional: a simple daily prayer with scripture reading, meditation, prayer, and thought for the day.
    http://www.upperroom.org/devotional/
    Sacred Space: an interactive daily guided meditation you can use at your computer (about 10 minutes)
    http://sacredspace.ie/
    Daily prayer provided in the Church of England style
    http://www.oremus.org/
    Church of England daily prayer — morning, evening, and night
    www.cofe.anglican.org/worship/dailyprayer/index.html
    Daily Prayer Gen X: daytime or night prayer, depending when you visit the site — try it out!
    http://www.rejesus.co.uk/spirituality/daily_prayer/dailyp_media/dailyprayer.swf
    Liturgy of the Hours (Roman Catholic) — select for the time of day (morning, evening, and night prayer)
    http://www.universalis.com/-700/today.htm

Get started — there’s no more reason to wait. Daily prayer has never been so uncomplicated — and has been for thousands of years!

 

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One comment on “When You Need to Pray, and Don’t Know Where to Start, Start Here
  1. Because prayer can move mountains.
    The years have gone by with my boys growing up way too fast — and yes, it is prayer that kept me going.

    Love this post.

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