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Getting in the Habit of Prayer

What is the next step you’ll take to grow in your prayerfulness?

A few weeks ago we finished a seven-week series on the Lord’s Prayer. One of the truths I discovered in preparing these sermons is that prayer, and, in particular, the way we pray, shapes us. To pray as Jesus instructs us reworks our vision of the world, so that we come to see God as central. It redirects our longing, turning our hopes toward Christ’s kingdom coming in fullness. By it we live into the reality that we are dependent creatures, looking to God for life, forgiveness, and strength to do his will. Prayer transforms us.

My hope is that meditating together on the Lord’s Prayer has helped you in your personal prayers, both motivating you to pray and giving you direction on how to pray. I know that the process has shaped me.

And now I’d like to encourage many of you to take another step—the step of getting into a habit of prayer. In my experience, prayer is a bit like exercise, or like spending “quality time” with family members—that is, it rarely happens accidentally. Unless we make choices as to when, where, and how we will pray on a regular basis, unless we proactively pursue a habit of prayer, we will find ourselves frustrated by the feeling that we are constantly failing to do something that is important.

Some of you have already learned how to make prayer a meaningful and integral part of each day. But if that doesn’t yet describe you, let me encourage you to start small. How might you set aside a few minutes each morning and/or evening to meet with God in prayer? The length of time doing so is much less important than the consistency (as Jesus reminds us, saying many words does not somehow make God listen to us more). If you make personal prayer a daily part of our routine, I suspect you will be surprised at how it shapes you and the way you view life.

Let me also mention a tool that might help you in establishing this habit: Tim Keller’s devotional book The Songs of Jesus. This book is divided into 365 meditations (leap year doesn’t make the cut), taking you through the entire book of Psalms in a year. Each day has a few verses to read, a brief (and quite simple) meditation by Keller, and then a sample prayer to guide you as you seek to respond to God’s Word. It’s a good place to start. This summer our preaching series will be coordinated with this book, so that on Sunday’s we’ll be considering a Psalm from the previous week.

I pray that we might more and more be a church that is shaped by prayer.

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