Today, we’re talking about creating a prayer routine. Some of you love everything about the word routine and others of you are trying not to roll your eyes or exit out too quickly.
Shouldn’t prayer be a bit more romantic than a routine? Not romantic like a mushy dating relationship but a bit more serendipitous and beautiful?
In Pray Confidently and Consistently, I shared a thought about my favorite rom-com, when Harry Met Sally.
It’s easy to see our prayer lives the way we see romance through the eyes of a rom-com. We have an expectation that romance will be a series of impromptu run-ins where everything eventually falls into place. My favorite rom-com is When Harry Met Sally. As a former journalist myself who hoped to marry her best friend, it checked all the right boxes. Every five years or so, the protagonists ran into each other, and after several of these chance encounters, they eventually fell in love. Can you imagine if the storyline were that every few years they would meet, check their calendars, and pencil in their next rendezvous for five years down the road? Where’s the fun in that?
We love the rush of an unexpected rendezvous that changes our lives, and I think we expect the same of our relationship with God. We think we should only pray when we want to. Otherwise, aren’t we just kind of faking it? I really don’t think so.
A mom still has to change diapers even though she doesn’t love to do it.
A writer still has to write to make a deadline, even if she or she doesn’t feel like it.
A good athlete finishes the game or the race, even when there’s no longer a chance of winning.
And with anything, when we stick to something after the honeymoon phase wears off, we are deepening our affections. We are no longer choosing it just because it makes us feel good. We are acting out of faithfulness and commitment.
That’s from page 191 if you have a copy of the book and want to read the rest of the section.
Here’s what I hope is abundantly clear though.
A prayer routine doesn’t make for a stale prayer life. A MINDLESS prayer routine, yes. That can totally make for a stale prayer life. But planning when you will pray really just tells God that this matters to you and it’s worth preparing in advance to make sure it still happens.
So many of us hope to stay connected with God in the busy seasons, like when you have a newborn and waking up early is just impossible. But for us to get to a point where we can have these little moments of God throughout the day, we have to know Him. Not because God requires it, but because we’re human and distance with the Lord tends to paralyze us when we try to return to Him.
For example, I find it easier to pick up the phone and call my sister, who I talk to everyday and have quite the long history with than I do to pick up the phone and call someone I haven’t talked to in months. I know with my sister, I can hop on for a brief few minutes and that’s totally fine. With someone I haven’t talked to in a while, it’s easier to put it off until I have tons of time to catch up on everything before we chat, which honestly, rarely comes.
It can feel the same with God and that’s why having a routine that helps us stay consistent can help us overcome that paralyzing feeling that comes when it’s been a while since we’re talked to God.
So, let’s get into the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW of creating a prayer routine.
1. HOW WILL YOU ORGANIZE YOUR PRAYER TIME?
I’ve already said it, but we need a plan. Assuming that when you sit down to pray, you’ll remember everything you hope to pray for is basically torturing yourself and sabotaging your prayers. So make a plan. Our prompted prayer journals use a monthly format. You fill it out once intentionally every month so it’s ready to reference daily. We’ve stuck with a monthly format because it’s worked so well but think about what would work best for you.
2. WHEN AND WHERE WILL YOU PRAY?
Start small. Creating the habit is the most important aspect. Praying for an hour one day is fantastic but I think being able to consistently meet with God 2-3 minutes every morning is even better because you can build on a habit only when a habit actually exists. If you need some examples of when a good time to pray each day might be, check out our blog post, “How to Make Time to Pray”. I share 18 points in the day that you can pray. Don’t get crazy with it. Just pick one time of day you can be consistent with. Think about the times of day that your hands are busy but mind is free. Or think of other habits you’re already really consistent with and tack it onto that. Maybe you set up your journal next to your coffee maker and spend the time it’s brewing in prayer.
3. Identify WHAT your usual obstacles are.
Why has consistent prayer time failed in the past? Don’t be blindsided by the same issue over and over again expecting things to be different. Take some time to think and even pray about the things that usually sabotage you and have a ready response for it. Some examples. If it’s your phone distracting you, do not pick your phone up till after you’ve prayed. We’ve all heard this a thousand times but maybe we haven’t actually tried it? Or what if prayer feels boring and sticking with it is hard because you just don’t want to? Check out my post called, “7 Reasons Prayer Feels Boring”, and see if what you’re feeling can be addressed and how to handle it.
4. Decide who is going to keep you accountable.
I won’t beat this into the ground because we all know by now how important accountability is. Can you have a friend that you have check-ins with weekly? You don’t get any pink slips if you miss a few days praying. You just have the accountability that is giving someone else access to your inner life. I heard Louie Giglio once share in a sermon just how damaging isolation can be in our Christian walk. It gets super easy to drift when no one’s paying attention. So, who’s paying attention to you? Who’s noticing when you’ve gotten really busy and neglected time with the Lord for long stretches? Who’s noticing when anxiety and fear take over instead of peace? Let someone in.
5. Pray for the desire.
Friends, I know how important prayer is to my life and I still find myself having moments when I don’t choose it. This is normal. But it’s also not out of God’s realm of work. Make that one of those prayers that never leaves your list: Lord, give me the desire to pray. I pray He is generous and faithful to provide a fresh desire in you this week to connect with Him!
If I can gently challenge anyone listening who’s thinking they really want to figure these things out, but it’s about to get put on the back burner as soon as the blog post ends:
Do not hesitate.
Start today. The enemy wants us feeling distant from God. Just think what could happen if we had one pocket of time during our day that we knew we’d consistently be praying. Sure, there might be other times, but if the day gets hectic, if you forget to pray, you’ve had an anchor time with the Lord.
The possibilities are so sweet.
We could experience a peace and joy that is only found it God’s presence.
We get to be a part of God’s ongoing kingdom work as we listen and obey Him.
We build our own faith as we see God move in our lives.
We see our actual circumstances changed and affected.
We bring greater glory to God.
We free ourselves from the consequences that come from disobedience and listen intently for God’s leading.
This isn’t small potatoes. This is important and life-transforming. Take one small step today in setting up a good prayer routine.
One great way to do this is by grabbing our prompted prayer journal for 2023. I love what Gwen D. said after using it.
“I thought about it long and hard before plunking down the money for this journal. I was afraid I would use it for a short time and then forget about it. I was wrong! I use it almost every day and I love that I can tell someone I am praying for them and really actually do it!”