The 1993 film comedy, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, isn’t about prayer. It tells the story of a man stuck in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over, who eventually realizes that his strange circumstances present him with the opportunity to become a better person.
Perhaps in a sense, each new day presents us with a similar opportunity, especially when it comes to prayer. When Jesus taught on the subject of prayer, He warned against “vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7, KJV), denouncing the mindless recitations of those who “think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7, NIV). But the modifier in Jesus’ phrasing is important. He didn’t advise against all repetition when we pray. In fact, I’ve learned that the daily renewal of certain prayers makes me a better person in many ways.
Here are just four examples of prayers I send heavenward every day:
1) “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
I pray this prayer (which is a Bible prayer found in Psalm 124:8) every day, and sometimes more than once each day. Once, when my heart was heavy, and I was battling panic and anxiety, I spoke these words over and over, for as long as a half hour at a time. When my heart and mind calmed down and agreed with the words, my fear subsided. This prayer reminds me that I’m not in control, but the mighty God who created all things is, which makes me calmer and more trusting day by day.
2) “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
I pray the Lord’s Prayer every day—some days more than once. I don’t always pray it in the words of the King James Version of the Bible; I often substitute “Your” for “Thy.” The whole prayer is an indispensable part of my daily routine.
But one phrase—“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—helps me particularly in the mornings. That’s when I’m reminded that not only do I invite God’s kingdom and submit to His will, but that I enlist as His co-worker in bringing about those things. That’s a focus I easily lose, so this daily prayer turns my mind and heart in the proper God-facing direction.
3) “I have sinned against You.”
My daily prayers always include prayers of confession and cleansing like the following:
Almighty God, my Father, I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, by what I have done and by what I have left undone. I have not loved You with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbor as myself. I am truly sorry, and I humbly repent. For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, forgive all of my offenses, and grant that I may serve You in newness of life, to the glory of Your Name. Amen.
That daily prayer (or one like it—I often revise the exact wording to keep it fresh and meaningful) humbles me; reminds me that I need mercy, forgiveness and grace; renews in me a hope and determination to follow Jesus more closely; and allows me to begin and end each day with a clean conscience and tender heart.
4) “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”
Every evening (and often in the morning too), I pray this line from Psalm 17:8. Such tender words. Such sweet imagery. I especially value it as an evening prayer, because soon thereafter I lay down my head on my pillow with a renewed awareness that God loves me, values me, cares for me and protects me. It makes me a better person to know that though I am a sinner, I am “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20, KJV) and loved with the “greater love” of Jesus (see John 15:13).
Are there daily prayers you’re praying—or could be praying—that will make you a better person?