Building a Daily Habit of Prayer
- Spend this time exclusively with God in one uninterrupted period, not while driving or doing other activities. Don’t multitask! Recall how you feel when you’re with a friend or your spouse and in the middle of your conversation he/she brings out his/her smartphone and begins texting, or gets up and starts doing something else. It’s a good habit to keep God’s presence throughout the day when you’re doing other things, but this time, is focused solely on God.
- To allow time for conversation and silence with God, avoid devotions during your 15 minutes (such as the rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet). By all means, pray devotions; they are a rich gift of the Church. But let the 1% be a different mode of interaction with God.
- A scheduled time helps build the habit of prayer. Setting a regular time each day is the surest way to make your 15 minutes of prayer happen.
Pray in the Morning if Possible
- Praying and listening to God first thing in the morning is best for many people because nothing interferes with your prayer if nothing else is happening.
- This allows you to quite literally “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). It also allows you the chance to make up your prayer at some later time in the day if you are interrupted or prevented by an unforeseen circumstance.
- This is the preferred practice of many saints and Christians throughout history, and Jesus himself often rose before dawn to pray in solitude.
- “Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear” (Isaiah 50:4)
- But pray how and when you can. It’s more important to schedule a time each day than to schedule an ideal time you won’t keep. If you cannot do your 1% prayer time in the morning, still start your day with a simple Morning Offering.
Don't Let the 'Method' get in the Way
- The 4 steps of lectio divina can help, but don’t let them limit you. Teresa of Avila called prayer “an intimate sharing between friends.” A conversation between friends would be weird if it always followed a routine or formula. Try different ways to talk, listen to, and simply be with God.
- Explore other prompts or methods for prayer. For example:
- Use the Lord’s Prayer or the order of the Mass as an outline of the various types of prayer and petition
- The first three things we all learn to say as children are great things to say to God: Thank you, I’m Sorry, and Please. It’s as simple as that!
- “ ‘Stop, look, and listen’ is what you do at a railroad crossing. Prayer is like a railroad crossing. God is like a great train crossing the tracks of your life. You want to get run over by this train! So here is how you put yourself on the tracks in front of God.” – Peter Kreeft, Prayer for Beginners, 31.
- Sometimes words get in the way of deeper communication. Lovers stare into one another’s eyes wordlessly. Parents and children cuddle and say nothing. The only way to hear anyone, including God, is to be silent. Any friendship in which you are never quiet and attentive will eventually dissolve. The Lord says, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:11). Begin and end each prayer time with a minute of silence to rest in God’s presence.
- Keep it real: Be yourself and come to God just as you are.
Set Achievable Goals
- If 15 minutes is too difficult at first, start with a more achievable goal and work up to 1%.
- If you’re already faithful to 1%, consider working up to 2% or more! Offer the additional time for others or for some special intention.
- If you miss a day, don’t get discouraged; just get back on track. Try especially hard not to miss two days in a row.
- Remember to try it for 30 days first!
Use Helpful Resources - But don't Let them Distract You
- There are many good books and Bible tools out there to help you read and apply God’s Word. (See some in our list of resources below). Don’t become a “commentary junky” or you’ll tend to put off praying for more learning. Communicating with God requires your heart to open, not your mind to fill. Simple, brief use of a few good resources can be a wonderful aid to praying with the Bible.
- If you feel called to dig into more serious or academic study of the Bible (recommended joy for those who love learning and God!), build in additional time for the disciplines of study and spiritual reading. The 1% Challenge should protect 15 minutes a day for direct dialogue with God through lectio divina.
- Notice the fruits on days you pray. That will motivate you to pray every day.
- Keep a notebook with brief insights, prayers, and Scripture passages that speak to you.
- Occasionally read a short book on prayer. Recommended:
- Prayer for Beginners by Peter Kreeft
- Time for God by Fr. Jacques Philippe
- Don’t overlook the human mechanisms that will enable you to be faithful to this: Put it in your calendar; set the coffee the night before so it’s ready to go for your morning coffee date with Jesus; make a commitment to not check Facebook (or whatever) until you’ve prayed. Put your alarm on the other side of the room so you don’t waste 15 minutes hitting the snooze bar!
- If you are distracted, simply persevere. Take those distractions to prayer or write them down so you can return to them at a better time. Ask your Guardian Angel to take care of it. God does not mind distractions. It is the love with which we return our focus to him that he desires. Many find it helpful to use a small notebook or journal to help focus their payer times.
- Do not over-idealize your prayer. Most of the time, it won’t “feel” perfect or life-changing. There will be unexpected interruptions, dryness, distractions, etc. You will experience seasons of both joy and struggle in prayer. After a prayer time, resist the temptation to evaluate how it went. Just be faithful, and over time you will grow in your ability to pray and to follow the more subtle promptings of the Spirit throughout your day.
Don't Go it Alone
- If you really want to grow, ask a friend to commit to the 1% Challenge™ with you.
- Get together regularly to discuss your experiences, goals and growth.
Beyond the 1%
Build upon this Foundation Towards a More Robust Spiritual Life