The hardest thing about praying is feeling motivated to pray. It’s easy to want to develop a relationship with God, and in many ways, this desire in and of itself is a prayer. But for that relationship to blossom and grow, it needs regular commitment. And, just like exercise, it’s difficult to sustain that discipline, to sit down every day and give time to it.
After a long day at work or at school, we just want to turn off our brains and get lost in mind-numbing activities. Even though praying can be as simple as having a brief conversation with God, getting ourselves into a prayerful mindset is always the biggest hurdle.
What if we could hack our way into a regular prayer routine, though? As with any sustained effort, using small prompts and nudges and reminders can help you stay faithful. Here are a few suggestions that might help you get a prayer practice off the ground and flying.
Set a daily alarm on your phone
We are creatures of habit. Creating the habit of praying every day at a certain time will train your mind to get into prayer mode automatically. Try setting a reminder on your phone during a time of day you always have free — like before bed, during your lunch break, or in the morning before work. As you continue to develop this habit, every day you commit to praying will make it easier for the next.
Create a contemplative space
Praying in a space you can focus in is key. For a lot of people, this is in their room. Your room is your own personal haven, where you can relax and be yourself. Create an environment that inspires you to pray. Maybe there’s a comfy chair you like to snuggle up in with a prayer book, or perhaps you like piling up pillows on your bed. Try lighting some candles, playing music, and changing into comfortable clothes. Sometimes, just getting your environment ready for prayer inspires your mind to follow suit.
Turn on music
Music is a powerful tool that can inspire listeners to become more reflective. Is there a type of music or an artist who puts you in a reflective space? Is there a certain song that has lyrics that remind you of God? Turn on whatever music it is that turns your thoughts upward. It could be something specifically Christian, like Audrey Assad’s Inheritance album; or a band with meaningful lyrics, like Mumford & Sons; or simply something peaceful, like classical music. Let yourself be moved by the music and allow your reflective thoughts to become prayers.
Writing in a journal is a great way to get heavy feelings off your chest. But have you ever considered swapping “Dear Diary” for “Dear God”? For many of us, it’s hard jumping into conversational prayer. Directing your diary entries to God can help you in becoming more comfortable with confiding in God as you would a friend. When you simply begin your journal entry with “Dear God,” it helps you to get into the mindset for conversational prayer.
Ask for the desire to pray
Most importantly, ask God for the desire to pray. God wants us to seek Him out in prayer and He won’t leave us hanging when we ask for a little prayer inspiration. If your mind is wandering and you have zero desire to pray, try saying, “God, please help me pray,” or, “Mary, please give me the desire to pray to your Son.” Remember to be open to the nudge to pray.
However you step into prayer, God is always waiting and ready to listen.