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Unhurried Rhythms

How to Practice Prayer

By January 10, 2022No Comments

Week Two Devotional

By Jacob Stewart

Let’s be real, for most of us, prayer is a weak point in our relationship with Jesus. Most of us don’t really enjoy prayer. We feel bad, even guilty, about how little we pray. When we finally do take the time to pray, we often don’t know what to say. Or we’re so distracted we can’t focus!

For Jesus, prayer was central to life with God. Most people define prayer as simply talking with God. Prayer is a back & forth conversation that comes out of a depth of relationship.

That’s why prayer was such a huge part of Jesus’ life. We read, “he often withdrew into lonely places & prayed” (Luke 5:16). For Jesus, prayer wasn’t a drag or a duty. He seems to genuinely enjoy his Father’s company. I think that’s why the disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus’ answer was “the Lord’s Prayer”, which isn’t a Scripture to simply memorize and recite but more of a template to follow when you pray.

Our practice of prayer is going to start there. This week, we’ll challenge you to set up a time & place to pray and teach you how to do it. It’s an easy exercise that you can do in 2 minutes or 2 hours! The main point is to get into a rhythm of daily prayer.

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Reflect:

  1. Does the idea of prayer as simply “life with God” (instead of “asking from God”) feel true in your life?

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Creating a Prayer Rhythm

  • Set a time and place to pray that is quiet and distraction free. It could be on the way to school, before you get ready for the day, or before you go to bed. 
  • Put away phones or any distractions and get into a comfortable, but alert position. Take a few deep breaths. Invite the Holy Spirit to be present with you.
  • You’re invited to pray aloud or silently, and I encourage you to do the opposite of what feels most comfortable or familiar.
  • If you need the words, write out the Lord’s Prayer on a small slip of paper and keep it in your pocket.
  • Set a modest goal. Aim for daily, but if that’s too much, try 3 times a week, for 10-15 minutes. If you miss a day, don’t miss two.

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On Distractions:

If you struggle with distractions, you’re not a bad Christian- you’re just a human one. Try a simple breathing exercise before you start the prayer.

4-7-8 Breathing Method:

  • Inhale through your nose for four seconds
  • Hold in the breath for seven seconds
  • Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds
  • Repeat this as many times as you need to slow down.

Completely power down your phone. (Better yet, don’t even have it in the same room.)

Your mind will seize the opportunity in silence to run wild with thoughts, feelings, memories, to do’s, etc. That’s okay! Don’t judge yourself, feel bad, give up, or worry. When you notice your mind starting to wander, recenter with breathing & saying a quick word like, “Jesus have mercy” or ,“Holy Spirit, come.”

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The Lord’s Prayer

Once you’re settled, use this guide to pray the Lord’s Prayer

 

“Our Father…”

Pause and take a moment to think about the idea of God as your Father, who has good intentions towards you. Imagine God and his character as a father.

“In heaven…”

Now, take a moment to think about the idea that God is all around. As you breathe in & out, imagine yourself breathing in & out the breath of the Holy Spirit.

“Hallowed (holy) is your name…”

Spend a few minutes just sitting with the Father in joyful, grateful adoration. Sit in silence for a few moments. Think of some things you’re grateful for and praise God for specific things you love about him.

Declare these things out loud like, “Father, thank you for your kindness.” “Father, thank you for loving me unconditionally.”

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

Spend a few minutes asking for God’s will to be done in your home, workplace, city, and church.

Verbally bring the Lord specific things in your life that you’re wrestling with control over. A simple prayer of, “Your will be done in ________” is a great place to start.

“Give us each day our daily bread…”

Spend a few minutes praying for specific needs & wants in your life or that of your community.

This is a great time to pray over specific people in your life: pray for healing, peace, wisdom, comfort. 

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…”

Spend a few minutes confessing specific areas in your life, and releasing others to forgiveness just as the Lord has forgiven you. If nothing comes to mind, ask the Lord to show you an area of your life that can be brought under his Lordship.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Spend a few minutes praying against temptation in your life. Pray against specific sins. Pray against any kind of evil – spiritual, human, natural, etc. Invite the divine flow of God’s presence into your life and community.

Close with a moment of thanks to the Father for hearing us in prayer.

Recommended Reading from Sermon:

Liturgical, High Church 

Scripture

  • The Bible (come on, we had to 🙂 ) The New Living Translation is a great, readable translation.
  • Psalms in the Bible: The Bible’s prayer book! You can read the Psalms when you don’t have the words to pray.
  • Harmony of the Gospels: Takes the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and puts them together.

Commentaries

Devotions

The Saints