How to Ease into Daily Prayer
Any time you try to establish a new habit, the best implementation is gradual. If you start too quick, you’ll peter out. If you start too slow, you’ll lose interest and move on. The approach that will give you the best results is one that eases you into the habit.
I’m extremely goal oriented, so when I set a goal, I want to charge at it. For most goals, it’s the appropriate response. Having tenacity and confidence is extremely helpful. However, for things like adopting a habit of exercise or daily prayer, it can be all wrong. I’ve learned that, especially with prayer, it’s more important to begin with a simple routine of high quality prayer time.
When you decide to begin a daily prayer routine, start by asking yourself 4 simple questions.
- Where am I? An accurate and up-to-date self-evaluation of your spiritual life can be tremendously helpful. If you’ve been away from prayer for a while, you’ll need to adjust your plans for that. If there is a particular form of prayer that you find difficult, you’ll want to avoid that type of prayer. By better choosing your starting point, you’ll have a better chance of making significant progress.
- How much time do I have? You have a number of commitments on your time. Between family, work, and friends, you have a lot going on. God isn’t asking you to drop all of that. He's asking to be added to your list. So, by figuring out how much time you do have that you can devote to prayer, you can come up with a list of prayerful activities. If you have an hour daily, perhaps daily Mass could make it on your list. If you literally only have 15 minutes, a Rosary or spiritual reading will do.
- Can I find more time somewhere else? Time is all about priorities. If something is important enough to us, we’ll find the time to make it happen. If you find yourself only able to give 15 minutes to prayer, where in your schedule can you free up more time? Is there something you can cancel? Is there something you can limit? Can you wake up earlier or go to bed a little later?
- What does success look like? This all-important part of goal setting is too often ignored. Instead of defining success, we define failure. So, let’s get this one right. What does a successful daily prayer habit look like to you?
Starting a daily prayer habit is an excellent first step in the spiritual life. Start reasonable, start gradually, but above all, START!