Teaching a Grandson About Daily Prayer

PrayerDear Grandson:

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

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Photo credit: Taston (via flickr.com)


One thought on “Teaching a Grandson About Daily Prayer

  1. How good to receive a request from a grandchild, on how to make prayer and bible reading a part of daily life ! This goes to prove your premise,Pastor,that God has created us with the impulse to pray.

    I think ,since we came from God ,being created by God,we have a natural inclination to go to Him,connect with Him.God is our home.I think we are all connected with God,even those who don’t know it,even those ancient and pagan Athenians on Mars Hil

    Since the Advent of Christ we find God through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.The ancient Greeks did not have this advantage.

    But even they had some notion of the one true God , having a vague shadowy idea of Him as the unknown God,to whom they built a statue.Unfortunately they did not seek Him in the living Holy Spirit but foolishly sought to find Him in stone carved by human hand.

    In his sermon on Mars Hill,described in the Book of Acts by Luke,St Paul addresses these Greek people,proclaiming the living God.

    ‘’ So Paul stood in the midst of the [a]Areopagus and said,
    “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands’’

    Paul continues

    ’’ they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and [b]exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.’’

    From Acts 17 NASB ( New American Standard Bible)

    In the King James Bible it is written not ’’in the midst of the Areopagus’’ but ‘’in the midst of Mars Hill’’. Since Ares is the Greek for Mars ,I’m thinking this is simply Greek for Mars Hill.

    In the The King James Bible,Paul observes the Athenians are ‘’superstitious’’ not ‘’religious’’ ,which points out that while they have an inkling of God’s presence,they are wrong in seeking Him in stone.

    So these Mars Hill Athenians did have a kind of inbuilt knowledge of the true God,but worship Him ignorantly ,mistaking Him for stone ,not understanding He is the living God.

    Still,in his mission,Paul has something to work with ,in these Athenians hearts and minds ,to bring them to the light of knowledge of God.

    We seek connection with God and can realize connection with the living God through prayer and through connecting with His Word by experiencing the Bible Also we experience God during the sacraments of baptism and Lord’s Supper.

    Further, I think there are special times we experience God ,which are those times when God chooses to make His presence felt in us , as at the new birth,and in sudden revelation and epiphany.

    Starting each day with prayer is an ideal time for prayer ,carrying a good effect throughout the day.

    As you indicate,Pastor,an ideal way to read scripture is according to methodical plan.

    I’ve found something else useful.Most bibles have a list of life circumstances somewhere, in appendix ,with references to illuminating passages of scripture.So, as we go through personal crises or circumstances in our life,we can seek help through scripture.

    We may be sick or feeling doubtful or in mourning.The Bible has guidance on all these life issues and more.I think this comes under the special needs you mention,Pastor.

    I know what you mean ,Pastor,that hearing ones voice in prayer helps.I find it so,speaking as quietly or loud as circumstances allow.

    I think we are all prone to wander off in our minds, losing the thread of prayer. Especially when not formulating the words spontaneously,but saying a learned prayer like the Lord’s Prayer

    Even such an experienced prayer speaker as the previous Pope, Poe emeritus Benedict ,has had this problem of a wandering mind.

    in his three volume meditation on the life and teachings of Christ,’Jesus of Nazareth’,in the pages on the Lord’s Prayer,Benedict confesses that during the Lord’s Prayer he has found himself distracted and his mind has wandered.

    Knowing the words by heart,it became automatic, and when tired ,the meaning of the words were lost.

    I think guidance on how to pray is one of the most common forms of help sought by Christians.After all,His disciples asked Jesus how to pray.

    To that request we owe the gift of the prayer that Jesus taught us, variously known as the Lord’s prayer,the Pater Noster etc.

    I Look forward to carefull reading and studying next weeks continuation of ‘Teaching a Grandson About Daily Prayer’.

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