How regularly do you pray? Be honest here. Has prayer become as habitual for you as brushing your teeth? Or, do you have the best intentions to pray regularly, but sometimes just forget? Or, sometimes get busy and prayer falls to the side? Or, do you intend to pray at bedtime and fall asleep as you’re starting to pray?
How do you develop a habit of prayer?
Habits are notoriously hard to form and even harder to change once set. Making prayer a habitual part of your day is a difficult pattern to establish, especially if it means changing other habits. Yet, what should be more essential in your day than prayer?
“Prayer should be a habitual attitude, not an occasional act.” ~Harry Emerson Fosdick, in The Meaning of Prayer
For prayer to be effective in your life, it must be regular and habitual. Something you do daily without even thinking about it. Prayer should be fully ingrained into the fabric of your life.
How many prayer requests must one have to pray so continually? Prayer isn’t only about asking for things. In fact, prayer should first and foremost be about developing a relationship with God. Share your life, discuss your dreams, review your decisions, open your heart to guidance and direction, get to know God and explore who God is.
Brother Lawrence gives this definition of prayer, “That we should establish ourselves in a sense of God’s presence, by continually conversing with him.”
So, how do you develop a habit of prayer, especially when life gets busy and prayer doesn’t seem the top priority?
5 Steps to Develop a Habit of Prayer
1) Start the conversation.
Just get started. Research shows that the people who are most successful at forming habits are the ones who get started and stick to it the most at the start. So, open the conversation with God. Say “hello” and share what’s on your heart.
2) Set aside specific times for daily prayer.
Schedule time with God. Be deliberate about making time for prayer in your day. If you’re as calendar-driven as I am, create an appointment with yourself. Write it in your calendar, so you’ll reserve the time and have a reminder. No matter how busy your life may be, you’ll always make time for your top priorities. So, make prayer a priority.
Struggling to find the time in your day? Check out these 10 ways to find time for prayer in your day.
If you think your day is already too full to add time for prayer, enter your email address below and I’ll send you the “Prayer for a Busy Life” worksheet to help you assess your daily schedule and find time for prayer.
3) Make a plan for your prayer time.
Especially as you’re getting started, make a plan for your prayer time. Most of us aren’t great at sitting in the silence, particularly without guidance and practice. So, use a daily prayer guide or devotional to guide your prayers. There are many methods and templates for prayer, but the key is to have a plan before you start so you can stay focused.
Need a daily prayer guide to get started? I have several options available for you in the store. Choose the one that fits best for your journey with prayer.
4) Set a specific duration for each phase of your habit-forming journey.
While it often takes far more than 21 days to form a habit, it can be helpful to give yourself manageable time constraints. It’s far easier to stick to a new daily routine for 21 days than to enter a change like this with an open-ended duration. With a set duration, you have a deadline and a goal to reach. Once you reach that goal, you can set another one. Maybe it takes you three or four (or more) rounds of 21-day prayer sprints to form a lasting prayer habit, but setting interim goals will help you recognize progress along the way.
5) Incorporate prayer throughout your day.
As you become more consistent about your daily prayer time, begin to add prayer into other times of your day. Continue the conversation throughout your day, until prayer becomes the thread running throughout your day, connecting all the pieces of your life.
Consider using prayer prompts as reminders to pray. Be purposeful to include God in your decision-making, concerns, stresses, and joys.
Start forming your prayer habit today!
Will you get started today? Open your calendar right now and make an appointment with God. Schedule a daily prayer appointment on your calendar for the next few weeks. Then, choose a prayer plan (use one available here, a daily Bible reading plan, or any other devotional) to help you get started. Set a duration for this first prayer journey and hold yourself accountable to complete it. Give yourself grace if you miss a day, but then get back on track and keep going. Prayer will be the best habit you ever form!