I’m delighted that you want instruction on how to make prayer and Bible reading a part of your daily routine. I’ll first make some practical suggestions, and then next week, focus on the classical structure of prayer.
God has created us with an impulse to pray, and regular times set aside for prayer enrich the soul. The Psalmist wrote, “O Lord, the God who saves me, / day and night I cry out before you” (Psalm 88:1). Paul exhorted the Ephesian church, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18).
Paul met pagan Greek philosophers in Athens on Mars Hill. He declared to them that “In (God) we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If that is true for pagan Greek philosophers, it should be doubly embraced by us to whom God has revealed himself through Christ Jesus.
So here is suggestion one: make time for prayers in the morning (at least five or ten minutes) by planning your bedtime the night before. Then, upon rising, be efficient in getting ready for the day to preserve time for prayer before you leave for the day.
Suggestion two: Read from a portion of Scripture according to a plan. Consider reading through Mark, the shortest gospel account, a few paragraphs at a time. Or pray your way through one Psalm a day. Or read from the Proverbs and James. Pray that God will enlighten your mind to what He is saying to you each time you read.
Billy Graham reported many years ago that, at that time, he was reading from the Psalms and the Proverbs together. His reason for this routine was that the Psalms helped him to worship God – the vertical; and the Proverbs helped him in human relationships – the horizontal.
I follow a Bible guide from the Canadian Bible Society. I’ll send you a copy. I’ve found jumping here and there without a plan will not hold one’s interest. Alternatively: you may look for a Bible reading plan in a study Bible or get one from your pastor.
Suggestion three: In your morning prayer, commit the new day to the Lord and ask for his guidance for every task and responsibility. Pray for your family, colleagues, and friends. If you have special needs, include them in your prayer. James says, “The prayer of a righteous man (or woman) is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Daily prayer nurtures faith and, in turn, growing faith encourages daily prayer.
Suggestion four: For morning prayers, choose a posture that will help you stay alert. I recommend sitting at a table. You can pray in a whisper or a normal voice. I pray aloud when I’m alone. Hearing my voice helps me to remain alert. It protects me from just chasing wandering thoughts, or nodding off.
Suggestion five: I find it helpful to have a pattern as a background for prayer even though I don’t follow that pattern every morning. If I get distracted or lose concentration I revert to it, following the pattern for several days.
Next week I’ll write about that pattern — the five classic elements in prayer. I’ll tell you in advance that you may not need to make all five a part of every morning’s prayer time. But I would like you to get familiar with these elements and keep them as a background when you pray.
Until then, may your faithfulness in daily prayer enrich your life in ways greater than you expect!
Your loving Grandfather
Photo credit: Taston (via flickr.com)