5 Guidelines to Embrace for Doing Life Today ~ Pray Daily

Thanks for joining me for the finale of this five-part series and book giveaway.

The winner of last week’s book giveaway is Martha. Martha wins a copy of Karen Whiting’s devotion, Growing a Mother’s Heart. Congratulations, Martha. This week’s book giveaway  announcement and directions for entering are at the end of today’s post.

This week we’re wrapping up the series with Part 5 of the lovely benediction: Pray Daily.

As you go...

Live Simply
Love Generously
Speak Truthfully
Care Deeply
Pray Daily

And leave the rest to God.

Pray Daily

Praying used to be challenging for me. My thoughts ping-ponged from my prayer to what I needed to do next to what someone said to me yesterday, then back to prayer again. They ricocheted all over the table.

I’m not talking about the fervent and passionate praying we do when a loved one’s life is on the line; our child’s happiness and well-being are affected; or a life-changing decision must be faced. Those heartfelt pleas flow like a river out of a pool of worry and fear.  

I’m talking about everyday prayer. It’s natural, unforced, and requires no forethought. This kind of praying is informal—an honest chat with God. I wanted everyday prayer to become my default response to everyday situations: good and bad. But I didn’t know how to get there.

I’m talking about everyday prayer. It’s natural, unforced, and requires no forethought. This kind of praying is informal—an honest chat with God. I wanted everyday prayer to become my default response to everyday situations: good and bad. But I didn’t know how to get there.

I studied prayer so I could learn how to do it. I read books that taught the nuts and bolts of prayer. I started a prayer journal which helped me focus, but journaling prayer is time-consuming and requires materials and stillness. I wanted to pray effectively, on-the-go. In Praying with Paul, D.A. Carson advises: “pray until you pray.”

What did that even mean?

If You Want to Pray Better, You Must Pray More” (Mother Teresa)

The truth is, to get better at anything, we must practice. This was the philosophy I shared with my First Year Composition students to justify the amount of writing they were required to do. Athletes and musicians know how important practice is to improve skills. We allow teenagers behind the wheel of our car so they can practice driving. Mother Teresa’s famous quote “If you want to pray better, you must pray more” made sense.  

I continued my feeble efforts at prayer.

My Pastor Presents a Challenge

I finally turned the corner on meaningful prayer a few years later. During Lent, our pastor challenged the congregation to skip lunch one day a week and spend the time praying. Each Thursday, after I left my second graders in the cafeteria for lunch, I fasted and prayed. Instead of doing schoolwork while nibbling a sandwich or joining my peers in the teacher’s lounge, I closed my door, turned off the lights, sat in a corner, and prayed aloud.

Hearing my words rather than thinking them held me to the task. I was able to sustain prayer during a twenty-minute lunch break one day a week.

Soon Lenten Season was over, and it was Spring Break. Friends had offered me their condo in Seaside, South Carolina for a few days of solitary retreat. Solo walks on the beach, time to read for pleasure and time to write. It was heaven.

Pray Until You Pray

After three days of solitude, I was ready to go home. As I pointed my car toward the interstate, the unexpected happened. I turned off the radio and talked to God. (I’d missed our chats.) Filled with the joy and thanksgiving the beach always brings me, I poured out my praise. It felt so good I continued, telling God my every problem and worry, my every hope and dream.

Y’all, I didn’t stop after twenty minutes. I prayed for most of the journey home.

I’d never felt so close to God. D. A. Carson’s words came back to me: “Pray until you pray,” I think that’s what happened; I’d crossed the threshold to authentic prayer.  Here’s what Carson says in his book, Praying with Paul:

Christians should pray long enough and honestly enough, at a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends not a little praying. We are especially prone to such feelings when we pray for only a few minutes, rushing to be done with a mere duty. To enter the spirit of prayer, we must stick to it for a while. If we “pray until we pray,” eventually we come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will. 

(Emphasis mine) 

This was my powerful takeaway that day. God became the best kind of friend. He didn’t judge or reject me. He loved me and was thrilled that I came to Him, vulnerable and transparent.

Why and How to Pray Daily

We pray to develop our friendship with God. It draws Him near and strengthens our trust and faith in Him.

The Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth.

Ps 145:18 NIV

Praying daily helps keep us from sin.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41 NIV

Each morning, invite God into your day. Pat the seat next to you and visualize Him by your side. This helps keep us tuned to His presence.

Keep your heart in a posture of prayer. I have to readjust my posture throughout the day when I find myself slumping. Shoulders back, head up, I straighten my spine. Our heart slumps too. When this happens, readjust. Open your heart, and aim it toward God— ready to receive, ready to give. Offer Him praise and adoration and thanksgiving for every little thing.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

One more image I want to leave with you, and it’s a beautiful one.

Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.

Psalm 116:2 NLT

I’d love to hear your thoughts or your favorite Scripture on prayer. Scroll down, down, down to the comment section.

Book Giveway

This week’s giveaway is Destination Hope – a travel companion when life falls apart by Marilyn Nutter and April White. I know a lot of people whose life has fallen apart recently. Do you? Individuals who are facing losses, disappointments, or other obstacles. Readers are encouraged to see hardship as part of life’s journey and are reminded to turn their gaze upwards, to the Provider of Hope.

To enter, simply comment on today’s post below. If your name is drawn, I’ll contact you for your delivery address.

5 Guidelines to Embrace for Doing Life Today Keep your heart in a posture of prayer. Click To Tweet

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  1. This is a great teaching tool to help us learn to pray until we pray! I too struggled for years my thought ping- ponged (good description) everywhere as well. Praying out loud changed and praying with my father the last four months of his life changed my prayer time. Kay Author’s Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days was also impactful. Thanks for sharing. God bless your writing journey.

    1. I’m not familiar with that Kay Author study. Thanks for sharing it. I can see how the experience with your father would have an impact on your prayer life. I’m glad you both had that opportunity and for the legacy he .ft with you.

      Praying for you on your caretaking journey and for your writing ministry as well.

      Thank you!

  2. I love the simplicity of your message Candyce.
    Live Simply
    Love Generously
    Speak Truthfully
    Care Deeply
    Pray Daily
    And leave the rest to God.
    What a beautiful way to live out our faith. Thank you.

  3. I appreciated this post as we truly do struggle with prayer. For me, it is not so much when I am alone. It is when I pray with others. I am so grateful for the gift of prayer God offers to us. To be able to come to Him totally myself, transparent and pour my heart out to Him. It then somehow leads me to such deep gratitude and thanksgiving. Prayer changes me even if my circumstances haven’t yet changed. I loved the D.A. Carson quote, “Pray until we pray.” Psalm 116:2 is one of my favorite verses. The image of God bending down towards me is something I will never get past. It humbles me to think of God Almighty bending towards me. His love and compassion is astounding to me. Blessings!

    1. Yes, group prayer is powerful. I love to huddle with a group of friends and take turns to pray about a specific event or situation. You reminded me of times when I’ve had the privilege to do that in the past. Not so much anymore. This nudges me to seek more opportunities to do this during this season of life. Since I retired and started writing full time, that has become a lost practice for me — except for the prayers my husband and I do together.

      Thank you for your response!

  4. Love it Ms. Candyce. No surprise there ma’am. For me, I try to practice “Pray until His presence.” For me, I get an uncomfortable feeling inside when I’m pouring my heart out in prayer, but it feels no one is listening. When that happens, I’ll stop. Two things I do to help avoid that is remind myself to pray until I feel His presence. When I’ve prayed correctly, it reaches God’s heart and He always comes to join me where I’m at. The other thing I try to do is to “Save my Amen.” I do this by saving my “amen” for my personal prayer life until I just start to close my eyes. “Amen” is the last thing I say as I fall asleep each night. In doing this, I sense that I’m keeping the lines of communication open between me and God. When I consciously do this, I find myself unconsciously communicating with Him about everything throughout my day. It keeps His presence with me. Thank you so much for this encouraging and learning-filled post ma’am. God’s blessings.

    1. What a fantastic idea to save the Amen until the end of the day. I love the idea that by doing so, we keep the lines open to God throughout the day. Just what I want so much to do.

      Ending that morning prayer with an Amen does kinda give it a one and done feel. I plan to incorporate that strategy! Thanks so much!

  5. I don’t think I know anyone who always feels confident and competent in their prayer life and praying aloud. I’ve improved over the years as I’ve taken more leadership roles in worship and Bible study, but this is something we work on all of our lifetime here on Earth. Thank you for the strategies you shared to help us have more practice in prayer and gain confidence.

  6. Thank you, Jackie. Your words humble me, and I appreciate you taking the time to speak such kind words. The visual of teachers bending down to hear little children speak is a stirring one.

    I picture how much more God strains to hear words from me sometimes. He wants to hear from me so much; I shouldn’t make Him strain.

    I wish the same blessings for you, my gentle friend,

  7. Candyce, you consistently touch my heart with your words. As this post began, I felt you had been inside my head with your description of praying, ‘thoughts ping-ponged from prayer to ….’
    You have noted one of my favorite Scripture verses, Psalm 116:2. As an early childhood educator myself; I can visualize God bending down as we often do to listen and talk to the children in our charge. As long as I have breath – pray.
    May God continue to bless you, your family, and your ministry.

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