In the Hebrew and early Christian tradition there has always been a daily prayer rhythm to pause and pray - morning, midday, and evening. We see this in the life of Jesus and with the apostles in the early church. We want to recover this historic practice.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:4-7
Pray for the lost by name
Ask the Spirit to bring to mind people who are far from God, people who do not know his love for them. As faces and names come to mind, pray for them. Ask God, as their Good Shepherd, to go after these lost ones, to restore them to his fold, and to bring them salvation.
Pray for compassion
Ask God to give you the Good Shepherd’s heart—seeing as he sees and loving as he loves. Confess anything that’s getting in the way of compassion for the lost today. Ask God to soften the hard places in your heart, making it like his.
Pray to be sent
Finally, invite God to send you. As you have asked God to pursue your loved ones, now ask him to send you out with his empowering presence to the lost around you. Invite him to open your eyes and ears, that you might pursue the lost and pray for their salvation in the way our Good Shepherd does. Ask that he would inspire your imagination with ways to love, bring people to mind you don’t expect, and surprise you with invitations to be his hands and feet.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
“This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Luke 11:1, Matthew 6:9-13
The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer is the Church’s most famous prayer because it came right from the mouth of Jesus, himself. Throughout church history, this prayer has always served as both a model and a guide for Christ- followers around the world. When we pray The Lord’s Prayer, we are entering into the prayer school of Jesus, allowing his prayers to guide our prayers. Allow each line to be thematic, adding your own words to Christ’s words.
“Our Father in Heaven…”
Begin with prayers of adoration. In the way Jesus addresses God, he reminds us of three holy realities: God’s majesty, approachability, and restoration. God is “in heaven,” holy and other. He is incomprehensibly powerful and the true source and satisfaction of every human desire. God is also “Father,” inviting us to come before Him not merely as beggars but as children and heirs to His Kingdom. Through Jesus, God is more than just my Father but “Our Father.” He makes everyone—my family, friends, co-workers, even strangers and passers-by—into sisters and brothers.
“Hallowed be your name…”
To hallow means to set aside as holy. Spend a moment recognizing God as holy - as the unique one worthy of your affection. You may want to recognize and name the blessings in your life, connecting the gifts back to the giver. You could recite a Psalm, sing a worship anthem, or sit in silence, savoring the presence of God over all and in all.
“Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven…”
Spend a few minutes asking for God’s will to be done in your life. This part of the prayer about releasing control. What are you currently wrestling for control over—something you’ve never released from God or find yourself grabbing back from him? Name it and release it to God. You may want to repeatedly pray, “Your will be done,” a few times. Releasing our own control, we ask for God’s Kingdom in our midst. Simply, clearly, and specifically ask that God’s Kingdom would come where it lacks. Think of friends outside of relationship with Jesus, needs in our city and world, situations (professional, social, and personal), and even emotions within yourself. Anywhere and everywhere you know God’s Kingdom of love and peace is lacking, ask for Jesus to come.
“Give us today our daily bread…”
Now spend a few minutes praying for specific needs and wants in your life or that of your community—a job, healing, or wisdom to make a decision.
“Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors…”
Ask God for forgiveness for specific areas in your life, and releasing others to forgiveness. You may just want to pray aloud the short phrase, “Father, forgive me” or “Father, help me forgive.”
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”
Finally, spend a few minutes praying against temptation — this word can also be translated as trouble — in your life. Pray against any kind of evil - spiritual evil, human evil or oppression, natural disasters, systemic injustice, etc. Pray against bad things in your life or community, and ask for God’s blessing - the divine flow of good things into your life and community.
“For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Evening Prayer of Gratitude
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The evening is a time for resting and presence. In the evening, we are tired from the events of the day, and the greatest gift we can give one another is undivided presence with other tired people in need of rest in each other’s company. However, we often litter our homes, dinner tables, and relationships with the clutter we carry home from the day. In order to be present to one another at the close of the day, we must first become present to God at the close of the day.
During the Jewish Passover, Israel sings a song of gratitude for God’s deliverance in the Exodus called Dayenu. Traditionally, Dayenu means, “it would have been enough.” A more modern translation might sound like, “Thank you God for overdoing it.” Dayenu serves as a historic prompt for giving thanks to God at the close of the day.
Review the day
Review the events of the day: the people, tasks, messages, meals, demands, and surprises. Remember all of it. As you make your way back through the day from morning to evening, give thanks to God for anything and everything you have to be grateful for.
“God, lunch today would’ve been enough, but you provided me with the resources to choose the type of food I wanted to eat.”
“God, lunch of my choice would’ve been enough, but you created a world of flavor and spice and culture to make food more than fuel, but delicious.”
“God, a delicious lunch of my choice would’ve been enough, but you gave me a co-worker to share a conversation with over food.”
It keeps going like that, but you get the point. “Thank you God for overdoing it.” That’s Dayenu, and that’s how we pray gratitude.
Ronald Rolheiser writes, “Proper gratitude is the ultimate virtue. It defines sanctity. Saints, holy persons, are people who are grateful, people who see and receive everything as a gift. The converse is also true. Anyone who takes life and love for granted should not ever be confused with a saint.”
When we end the day in gratitude, we remember the fingerprints of God all across the hours of the day. We enter into the evening present and restful in the company of others in need of restful presence.
Staton, T. (2022). Praying like monks, living like fools: An invitation to the wonder and mystery of prayer. Zondervan.