Recently, someone on Facebook mentioned struggling in their prayer life. Another person commented that it was OK because God knew what you needed anyway.
That is true, but is the only reason we pray to get what we need from God? If you were struggling to speak to your friend or your spouse, would you want some help? I am not an expert on prayer, but I thought it might be helpful to offer some help.
I am going to outline a book that really helped organize my prayer life. The book is “The Hour That Changes the World: A Practical Plan for Personal Prayer,” by Dick Eastman. He organizes prayer into 12 categories, each lasting five minutes. If you don’t think you can manage an hour, try the time span that works for you, but give the 12 categories a chance.
1. Praise and Worship: Start your prayer time by praising God for who He is. Focus on an attribute of God like love, holiness, justice, mercy or focus on His creation. Just praise Him for who He is and what He has made.
2. Waiting on the Lord: This one has been a challenge for me. This is a time for silence where you just be still before Him and enjoy His presence.
3. Confession: This is the time to confess your sins by name and receive God’s forgiveness based upon the blood of Jesus. Use Psalm 51 as your guide.
4. Praying Scripture: This has been most helpful in my personal prayer time. Pray the Psalms. Use the Psalter as your guide and make these ancient prayers your own.
5. Watching: Spend this time focusing on your world or on current events. What is God doing in the world? What is He up to in your world? Where in the world needs prayer?
6. Intercession: This is the time where you pray for those needs around you. Ask God to give relational, spiritual, emotional, volitional, rational and physical health and healing to those around you. This is spiritual warfare on behalf of others.
7. Petition: This is the time where you focus on your needs. God delights in caring for us. He wants us to ask for our daily bread and receive from Him His good gifts — so ask!
8. Thanksgiving: Think about your day or your week and give thanks to God for the care and provision He has given you and those around you. Develop a heart of gratitude.
9. Song: Not all of us can sing on key, but we can make a joyful noise. This is the time for that. Use your favorite hymn, modern or ancient, and lift your voice to the Lord.
10. Meditation: This is the time for deeper thinking and reflection. This is not a time for clearing or emptying your mind. Instead, use this time to explore attributes of God or themes in Scripture. This is the time for pondering God’s works, His Word or His character.
11. Listening: This is time where we ask the Lord, “What is your will for me today?” Ask God to show you what He has in store for you today. Then stop talking and listen.
12. Worship: We end our prayer time where we started — exalting and glorifying God. “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13, NKJV).
I have found that an hour is not enough time. Give it a try! It will be the best hour of your day.
The Rev. Chris Boucher is pastor of Pleasanton Evangelical Free Church.