A Guide for Daily Prayer: How to Pray Each Day

Daily prayer forms a rhythm of spiritual focus in our lives and helps us attain the central goal of human life: to grow in communion with God.

A Guide for Daily Prayer: How to Pray Each Day

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

The Importance of Daily Prayer

We should pray because we need it. Prayer doesn’t change God; it changes us. More than anything else (food, water, shelter, family, etc.), we need God, the source of all life (John 1:4). However, because God loves us too much to force Himself on us if we want Him in our lives, we need to invite Him in with prayer. If we want to share in the fullness of life in Christ (John 10:10), we need to pray.

Daily prayer forms a rhythm of spiritual focus in our lives and helps us attain the central goal of human life: to grow in communion with God. Christ promised us that He will be with us when we pray to Him. "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). His mercy answers our prayers. Often we are waiting for a tangible answer to a distinct problem. Christ tells us that when we put Him first at the center of our lives in a selfless way, our other needs will be addressed (Matthew 6:33). 

Prayer helps us to rise above fallen modes of living, such as pride, fear, self-centeredness, and lack of love for other people. Prayer gives us the hope of salvation: by the Grace of God and through our endurance in faith and in lovingly serving others to His glory, we have the assurance of being with God in the Kingdom of Heaven.

How to Start a Daily Prayer Rule

It is far better to create a simple prayer rule and follow it devotedly than to design an unrealistic goal you could never sustain. Also, developing a prayer rule is much better than “wing it."

Start each day with the Lord's Prayer, a quick devotion given by Christ Himself as a prayer guide. Then as you are comfortable and ready to add prayers, include one of the Psalms, then more.

The key to creating and sustaining a daily prayer is to build the habit and devotion over time. At first, simply remembering and dedicating yourself to the Lord's Prayer each day will seem difficult.

Daily Prayer Examples

Christ presented the best examples of prayer. He gave us a specific prayer to our Father:

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

The LORD Is My Shepherd - Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Prayer of Repentance - Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

5 Rules for Genuine Daily Prayer

How can you know if your daily prayer is working and you're maturing spiritually? Here are five fruits of true, repentant prayer you should see.

1. True prayer will result in humility and obedience, not self-righteousness and egotism.

The fruit of authentic and genuine prayer will be expressed in two ways. First, the desire to obey God in obedience to the commandments of Christ. Second, the humility to realize that your strength cannot save you and that you need God’s help.

2. Prayer must NOT be from self-excitement or emotionalism. 

If we become too emotional or sentimental (by trying to force a feeling) during prayer, it may mean we’re heading straight toward self-deception and pride. Of course, unique inspirational phenomena happen during an honest prayer, too. This happens when God’s grace touches a person’s heart. However, these phenomena can’t be predicted or achieved by artificial self-excitement. Our primary goal in prayer should be a "humble and contrite heart," as in Psalm 51:17.

3. Prayer should not make you ecstatic.

We shouldn't repeat a prayer mechanically and aimlessly, without understanding its meaning and without a penitential feeling, as if it were a mantra or a spell until reaching an ecstatic state of altered conscience.

4. A true prayer cannot levy any requirements on God

If we demand anything from the Lord, our prayer will be more like a magic spell than a genuine Christian fear of God and reverence.

5. Prayer cannot be hollow.

Before we pray to God, we must prepare by reflecting and gathering our thoughts. More often than not, people who spend years in the Church get so used to the prayers that they start them without thinking. Your prayer won’t be powerful if you simply repeat some words, the meaning of which you don’t know or to which you’ve grown callous.

"What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also." (1 Corinthians 14:15)

Sources:
How to Pray the Right Way - stjohndc.org
Why Do We Pray? - stsavaoca.org
Daily Prayer Life - saintbarbara.org

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