A Model for Daily Prayer

Timothy Keller wrote, “Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him” (Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God). God wants to hear my heart, my desires, my wants, and my needs. He is the giver of all things, and to fail to pray is, to quote Keller again, “failure to treat God as God.”

I’ve developed some habits, things I’ve learned from others, that have helped me make prayer a priority and an important part of my day.

Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed by your name, 
your kingdom come, 
your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us this today our daily bread. 
and forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from the evil one. 
Matthew 6:9-13 NIV


1. I start my day with the Lord’s prayer.


Sometimes I sit on the edge of the bed, and sometimes I walk around outside, but this is one of the first things I do each day. I pause with each phrase and put things into my own words, a practice I learned from Martin Luther. So I focus on God as my father and praise him. I praise his holy name for he does not make mistakes, not in my life, not in the world. I pray for the kingdom to come and look forward to him making all things new. I pray for his will to be done for the day. I pray for my daily needs. I pray for forgiveness of sin and forgive anyone who has wronged me. I pray for God’s protection from the Evil One. 


2. I keep a prayer list and work through it almost daily (usually at the same time). 


I learned this from a mentor. My list is on my smartphone these days so I can pull it out and pray almost anywhere. (It’s a handy habit for when I have a long wait.) Our family also has a Pray Big wall, a wall painted in chalkboard paint where we write a request for each member of the family under the title Pray Big. We even leave the prayers up for awhile after they’ve been answered so we can rejoice together and remember that God answers our prayers!


3. I pray short prayers through the day. 


This is really about developing a holy habit and weaving prayer throughout the day. I try to make mealtime prayers meaningful. But I also try to make prayer my first reaction to a lot of the day-to-day situations I encounter. If a stressful meeting is coming up, I pause and pray. If I receive disappointing news, I pause and pray. If I’m worried about one of my guys, I pause and pray. If I’m unraveling a problem at work, I pause and pray. When I enjoy some blessing that God has given me, I pause and give thanks. 


4. I try to get away on occasion for an hour or more to pray. 


I learned this from Jesus. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

I have a couple of places that I like to go, and I usually head there when I’m feeling like I need to clear my head, or I have some complaints and needs to pour out, or I’m feeling heavy or burdened.


5. I try to end my day in prayer. 


Timothy Keller cites a great quote from Martin Luther in Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. “It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night.” I’m don’t think I can say anything that improves on that!

I don’t start my day praying for an hour, but if you add up all the prayers through the day, there’s a lot of praying going on. I hope these things will help you expand your habit of prayer as they have mine. Continue your conversation with God all throughout your day!