Debbie Salter Goodwin
Prayer Rhythms and How They Help
Prayer should be the spiritual rhythm that structures our days. We accomplish what God wants us to do in between prayer or during it.
A spiritual rhythm of prayer is conversation between you and God. It doesn’t depend on study or place or a certain amount of Bible knowledge. If you are child of God redeemed by the gift of Jesus, prayer is your family talk.
Too often we relegate prayer rhythms to times of distress. While no one should ever discount those quick, desperate times of calling on God, they don’t fortify us like a regular rhythm does.
I’m not talking about prayer times when we withdraw to focus solely on a conversation with God. I’m talking about rhythms that help us connect with God multiple times during the day. Sometimes it’s a check-up or just a check-in. Maybe it’s for thanks or intercession.
E. Stanley Jones said that “prayer is not an occasional exercise; it is a life attitude.” Prayer rhythms keep communication open, the possibility present, the access seamless.
What do I mean by prayer rhythms? Mostly, any process that keeps us in an ongoing conversation with God throughout the day. However, to begin, sometimes it is helpful to set those times. There are several ways to do this. You can set a clock-if you are a by-the-clock person. You can use a reminder on your phone. Yes, there are apps for that. You can connect a reminder to pray to regular activities like mealtimes, exercise, commuter time, or anything else that is already a regular part of your day. It’s the rhythm that
counts, not the when or how.
Consider new ways to establish prayer rhythms. Here are some ideas:
Choose a word for the day or week. Repeat it several times a day to remind you to connect with God. Examples include come, help, thanks, forgive, lead.
You can also use repeated phrases like Here I am, I am yours, Feed me, I confess, Open my eyes/ears. Use phrases that set your focus on God's ability to meet your need.
Choose a short scripture and say it over and over throughout the day. As it becomes a rhythm, you’ll find yourself more and more ready to listen for God before you talk with Him. Use scriptures like: “I come to do your will.” (Hebrews 10:9), “my soul yearns…for the living God,: (Psalm 84:2), “create in me a pure heart,”
(Psalm 51:10), “I want to know Christ,” (Philippians 3:10), “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).
Prayer rhythms aren’t magic wands to get God’s attention. Just the opposite. They make sure God has our attention. They make us ready to hear any encouragement, direction, counsel, or warning that God wants to give.
Try a new rhythm this week. Try another one next week and the next. Then, they become a part of your prayer closet, the one you take with you wherever you go. This allows the Holy Spirit to remind you of the right one to use when He knows you need it.
The more we are open to God, the more we recognize how He always has something to say. It’s critical practice for the times we are especially needy. But the real gift is how this unbroken rhythm brings the Emmanuel presence into “your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life.” (Romans 12:1, The Message).
Then, this practice isn’t just a rhythm; it’s a relationship.