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"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).

Recently I was reading a blog post by Pastor Tim Keller:

In this post Keller was thinking about the call to be "ever praying" or to be "praying always." He then passed some advice from John Calvin.

The basic advice Calvin gave was to divide your day up into 5 prayer sessions / times: (1) when we wake up / breakfast; (2) as we begin work / calling; (3) midday; (4) end of the workday / dinner; and (5) before sleep. These could be very short (a minute or less). But the practice and rhythm of praying during these 5 times would help someone become more prayeful during the day.

I was intrigue to the idea of 5 [!] prayer sessions during the day. This is the same number of times that Muslims pray during the day.

I was also helped because Calvins' advise is so helpful and pastoral. In the past I have sometimes talked about the idea of "praying always" or trying to "practice the presence of God." But simply suggesting those things does not help people. What we all need are very practical ways to do what God is calling us to do. Thus the suggestion of 5 prayer times during the day helps give someone the daily "scaffolding" in which to attempt to practice continual prayer.

I pass along one prayer Keller (and Calvin?) used for the beginning of the day, upon waking. I really like this prayer, especially the early requests about love: asking for God's love, wanting to love God and a desire to love others. I commend the prayer to you:

Upon Rising: For Love

Father, thank you for the grace that has preserved my life to this moment.

Now give me enough love for this day—a sense of love from you (so I’m not scared or driven), a welling up of love for you (so I’m not proud or selfish), and a resulting love for others (so I am not cold or distracted).

Let your Spirit illumine my mind and enlarge my heart for that.

And because it means nothing to begin well if one does not persevere, I ask that you would continue and increase your grace in me until you have led me into full communion with your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, that I may see his beautiful and great glory.

And as I laid down in sleep and rose this morning only by your grace, keep me in a joyful, lively remembrance that whatever happens, I will someday know my final rising—the resurrection—because Jesus Christ laid down in death for me, and rose for my justification. 

In Jesus’s name. Amen.