6 Ways to Build Up Your Prayer Life by Habit Stacking

These simple, easy practices can make a big difference in your spiritual routine.

Posted in , Apr 29, 2022

Praying with coffee

In James Clear’s bestselling book, Atomic Habits, he suggests a practice he calls “stacking” habits. (I’ve done this for years but have always thought of it as “daisy-chaining,” but the concept is the same.)

The idea is to identify an already-existing habit you have and “stack” onto that a habit you want to have. So, say, you’re already in the habit of brushing your teeth every morning. You have a new medication you’re supposed to take daily but often forget. So you decide, “I will take my medication after brushing my teeth.” You might even keep the pill bottle next to your toothbrush, to help you remember. Simple, right?

Here’s another example. I have developed the habit of taking my blood pressure each morning. So, when I wanted to start a daily stretch routine, I decided I’d do that right after taking my blood pressure. And, since I often forgot to do my daily foreign-language lesson, I also stacked that to my routine, just before taking my blood pressure. Now it’s second nature: language lesson, blood pressure, stretch. Easy peasy.

This practice can work wonders—literally—in the life of anyone who wants to pray more often or more regularly. Here are just a few examples: 

1)  If you use mouthwash, you’re supposed to swish it for a minute. That can seem like an interminably long time, but if you slowly pray The Lord’s Prayer or hum a hymn such as the Doxology, you’ll soon automatically pray while swishing, every time.

2)  Do you sit in the same place every evening to turn on the television? Why not place the remote under your Bible or a favorite devotional book (such as Guideposts’ Pray a Word a Day)? Read, then watch TV. Return the remote to its place; you’ll always know where to find it. And soon you’ll be in the habit of doing some spiritual reading before television watching.

3)  Are there people you call regularly? Tell yourself, “I will say a prayer for this person before I press call.”

4)  Are there people who call you regularly? Change their ringtone to something that will prompt a quick prayer before or when you answer (such as chiming church bells).

5)  How often do you open Facebook or another social media site? Determine to pray for the first friend whose photo pops up before you start scrolling.

6)  Do you pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea each morning and wait for it to cool? Why not resolve, “While waiting for my cuppa to cool, I will pray for my family.”

These are all such small measures. But they can make a huge difference, especially as you stack or daisy-chain spiritual habits to things you already do on a regular basis. Even if none of the above quite fit your situation, give some thought to your existing habits and the prayer routine you’d like to develop. Finding ways to connect current and future habits will easily help you become more prayerful in your daily life.

View Comments