A "pairing" technique that can help anyone who wants to improve their daily habit of prayer.
Posted in , May 25, 2017
Lots of people want to pray more regularly but they struggle to make a habit of prayer. The technique of “pairing” may change that.
Among my adult children's most vivid memories of me involves our dishwashing routine when they were in grade school and middle school. When we all finished our meal, I would spring up from the table and announce, "It's time to rock and roll." I would crank up the music and sing along loudly while washing dishes. The kids would mostly tolerate the music (and sometimes participate) while they dried and put away the dishes. By pairing my love for music with the chore of doing dishes, I not only turned a daily task into a fun habit but also created a memory.
That "pairing" technique can help anyone who wants to pray more regularly but struggles to make it a habit. The key is pairing prayer with some other routine that is either already a regular part of your schedule or a particularly enjoyable treat.
For example, my friend, Lynn, drives 45 minutes to and from work every day. So she turns off the radio and pairs her morning commute with prayer, since it is already–and unavoidably–part of her daily routine.
Another friend, Scott, has followed the same morning routine for decades, which he used to do in groggy silence. But he recently downloaded an app to his phone that provides a short series of hymns and prayers that pairs perfectly with his existing routine.
Angie loves coffee and used to dash through her favorite coffee shop's drive-thru twice a week after dropping her children off at dance practice. However, by parking and going inside to savor her coffee for just ten minutes or so, she created a new habit of spend a few quiet moments with God while sipping coffee from a mug (instead of gulping a paper cup).
John loves to read but seldom has time during the hectic pace of most days to crack a book. But he always keeps a devotional book or spiritual classic by his favorite chair, which entices him to spend time with God before heading off to bed.
The specifics of those examples may not work for you, but the chances are good that your life includes some regular activity or pleasure that, paired with prayer, can inject new enthusiasm and regularity into your prayer life. Simply ask yourself, “What routine or pleasure can I pair with prayer that might foster a new habit for me?” It may take a little trial and error, but a richer prayer life will make it all worth it.