[This post is part of the Reshaping Christian Habits series]
If you’re like me, you struggle to pray. That may be somewhat surprising, but I have had a hard time establishing a consistent prayer life. Master of theology notwithstanding, a good habit of daily prayer is something I have struggled to maintain. So naturally, that’s a good place to start in setting out on a 90-day challenge. While the focus of the challenge was originally on physical health and wellness, it makes sense to me to expand it to spiritual health and wellness. I want to get in better physical shape over the next 90-days, but I’d also like to become more Christ-shaped as well.
You may have heard of The Valley of Vision (also in leather). I would recommend it as a good place to start developing your prayer habits since it helps overcome the “I don’t know what to say” problem, and also helps shape your prayer language by cultivating patterns in your thinking about prayer.
This is all well and good, but like many resources for growing in Christ, it does not come with an instruction manual so you’ll need to set up your own method for regular prayer…which is part of the problem to begin with. This is a tangent I’ll come back to in another post, but knowing what to do (pray, read Scripture, be in community) is not usually what confuses people. Knowing how to build a habit of praying and reading Scripture is usually where the problem lies. Most people, I would imagine, do not know how to intentionally foster good habits. I think a forgotten component of disciple making is training in habit building, but this digression needs a full post to flesh it out.
Thankfully, Joe Thorn (author of Note to Self) has provided a strategy for walking through The Valley of Vision. Whether or not you’re going to use his approach, I would highly recommend adopting the schedule that he provides. The gist of what he is suggesting is that you set reminders in your phone for 9am, 12pm, and 3pm, Monday thru Friday, that will remind you to pray.
Whenever the appropriate alarm goes off, stop what you are doing, or wrap it up, and then spend a few minutes in prayer. If you use The Valley of Vision, prayerfully read the prayer according the schedule Joe provides. I would suggest as well that you read it out loud. Reading to yourself can push through the words too fast and doesn’t have the cadence that praying out loud does. Perhaps something in that particular prayer will stir you to pray about other things. Perhaps it doesn’t. But the idea is that moving through these Puritan prayers on a regular schedule will not only shape your prayer language but will help you build a habit of consistent daily prayer. I think the focus should be on establishing consistency first and then developing your own version of it later.