Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed,
he continued to go to his house, which had windows in
its upper room open towards Jerusalem, and to get
down on his knees three times a day to pray to his
God and praise him, just as he had done previously.
Powerful King Darius of Persia decreed that for 30 days prayers could only be addressed to him. Violators of the king’s edict would be cast alive into a den of lions. Yet, godly Daniel was not deterred. He persevered in his daily practice of three set times of prayer to the Lord God. Daniel was not alone in his practice of three times a day prayer. Three times of daily prayer were observed by Christ’s apostles (Acts; 3:1; 10:3,9; 10:30; 16:25). Early Christians also prayed three times a day (Didache 8:3), and during the Middle Ages the church bells called people to prescribed times of prayer.
With our freedom in Christ we can adjust fixed times of prayer to our family situation, life stages and schedule. Yet through the centuries people have discovered for themselves the value of establishing a time for daily prayer. Peter Kreeft observes: “Because ‘praying anywhere’ can easily become ‘praying nowhere’, just as ‘praying anytime’ can easily become ‘praying at no time’. Everything in general becomes nothing in particular.” (Prayer: The Great Conversation) People find that they are sensitized or more aware of God’s presence throughout the day when they have set aside a specific time for prayer.
For years I resisted a regular routine of prayer, believing that spontaneous communication with God should be spontaneous and free. As a result I prayed infrequently and with little satisfaction. Eventually I learned that spontaneity often flows from discipline…I found that I needed the discipline of regularity to make possible those exceptional times of free communication with God. (Peter Kreeft, Prayer: The Great Conversation)
One of my frequent rationalizations for not having set times for daily prayer is lack of time. I’m too busy! But philosopher Peter Kreeft has helped me see through my excuses. “We have time and prayer backwards. We think time determines prayer, but prayer determines time. We think our lack of time is the cause of our lack of prayer, but our lack of prayer is the cause of our lack of time.” (Peter Kreeft website, emphasis added) I find that Jesus does with time just what He did with the boy’s loaves and fishes. Jesus multiplies, or ‘alters’, whatever we place on His ‘altar’.
When establishing daily time for prayer it’s good to remember: “All who have walked with God have viewed prayer the main business of their lives.” (Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline) The habits you form in prayer will ultimately form you.
You might want to establish a set daily time(s) and place for prayer:
- TIME: Just like you make appointments to meet with people, make an appointment to meet with God each day. You likely will not “find” the time to do this, so you will have to “make” the time. You might think of an activity you could delete in order to make time for daily prayer. You might set your alarm a few minutes early to meet with God. Choose a reasonable amount of time for prayer, like 10 minutes. Consider offering to God your best, that is, your best time of day for prayer.
- PLACE: Choose a specific place to pray. If you travel frequently, this might be difficult, but make it a place free of distractions. Soon this set-aside place will become special to you and will actually enhance a prayerful attitude.
- Take a few moments to talk with God about committing to a set time for daily prayer. Ask for His help and for His blessing as you do this.
“There is no bad way to pray and there is no one starting point for
prayer. All the great spiritual masters offer only one non-negotiable rule:
You have to show up for prayer and you have to show up regularly.”
Ronald Rolheiser, Prayer: Our Deepest Longing