Preachers are always telling people to pray, to have a devotionalional life, and to spend time reading the Bible each day. But it isn’t that often that I hear a pastor talk about their own prayer life or give any pointers on how to develop a prayer life.
Each person needs to develop their own rythmns for prayer and contemplation. If you are a morning person then early morning Bible reading and prayer may just be the perfect things for you. If you are a night owl the last thing that may fit your life is early morning prayer.
In my own prayer and devotional life I’ve tried a lot of different methods over the years and also tried to develop some patterns that work for me. I also recognize that what has helped me to be close to God at some times changes. We all need to try to be attuded to the movement of the spirit to change in our lives.
One of the methods I use which is always evolving for me is the use of one form or another of the Daily Office. The Daily Office is an ancient form of prayer where you seek to pray at certain times of the day, usually at least morning and even but in a monastic community there may be as many as five or seven times of prayer a day. I find for my journey twice a day is enough of a challenge with a busy schedule and that sometimes a morning or an evening is what I really am able to accomplish in that day.
The Daily Office system which you can find in many resources including the United Methodist Order of Saint Luke, the Book of Common Prayer, books by Phyllis Ticke, and other of what I would call Neo-monastic communities which includes Cetlic Christian spirituality and community have daily office books. I would suggest you find one that suits your spirituality and touches you when you prayer.
If a Daily Office regiment isn’t for you hunt up good devotional resources from the Upper Room or other varios devotions. Do make sure that you check out the author and publisher of any Christian book you pick up so that you feel comfortable with the theology and understanding of the faith. It will effect the prayers and devotions they write and that you will be using.
I know like every busy person that I have to set aside time for devotion to make it work and when it works best for me is when I literally make an appointement for myself to have my daily prayer time just like I would make an appointment to do anything else I do. If you don’t set aside the time it won’t happen.
If you have not had a devotional time in our life start small with maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. Read some of the psalms, scriptures reading which may follow a pattern, and devotional writers. But don’t forget to spend real time in prayer both talking and most of all listening to and for God. I particularly enjoy Celtic Christian prayers because Celtic Christianity, like the early chuch, considered being a Christian a way of life, a journey, and not just a destination. In other words being a Christian is a life commitment to growing in grace. I see that same thread in Wesleyan theology because United Methodist theology emphasizes growing in grace as Christ works in our life each day and not just a single moment of commitment at some past time in our lives.
While I cannot prove it, I believe a deep abiding devotional life may be one of the things most missing in the lives of most Christians. When we don’t take time for devotional reading and prayer eventually we find ourselves running with a spiritually empty tank. Just attending Sunday morning worship is not enough to develop one’s self into a real disciple of Jesus Christ!
Really there is no shortage of devotional materal or aids to devotion. What is lacking for most people is the consist commitment to a daily prayer and study life.
I have not always been as diligent as I should be in my prayer life but I can tell you that when I am is when I have the most spiritual strength, resiliance, and guidance for God’s spirit. We owe it to ourselves, our faith, our Church, and our Savior to spend time each day walking and talking with Jesus. And, why would we want to miss the opportunity to do that?