We recently completed a sermon series titled “How to Pray” at Life Church in Portlaoise. The final sermon included practical ways to help you pray which we would like to review here.
We know that prayer is a vital part of the Christian life, yet many of us don’t have regular times of prayer. The reason is not so much that we don’t want to pray but that we don’t plan to pray. We have not chosen a place for prayer. We don’t have a set time for prayer. We don’t have a procedure for prayer.
Prayer will change your life, your family, your community, and the world. We must pray, so let’s commit to a plan for prayer that is not just a boring ritual, but the spark to a living relationship with our Heavenly Father.
What is your PLACE for prayer?
In Matthew 6:6 Jesus encourages us to, “go into your room and shut the door” for prayer. The principle being that it is important to minimize distractions and connect with God.
Some people love to pray in their room, others enjoy praying outdoors. In this season of my life I pray when I go on walks outdoors. Maybe you like to pray kneeling at a specific chair, or pray while having a cup of tea. Years ago I had a cliff face that I would sit at for my time of prayer. I always found it interesting that John Wesley’s mother found a place of prayer in the midst of her busy life as a mother by covering her head with her apron.
We are creatures of habit, the only questions is: “Will you have good habits?” Choose a place for prayer and stick with it.
What is your TIME for prayer?
Choose a time every day for prayer. For most people the best time will be in the morning. Prayer first thing in the morning is a great way to commit your day to God.
Make enough time every day for prayer. There is no rule on how long your prayer time should be, but it should be long enough to be meaningful.
What is your biggest BLOCK for prayer?
We have an enemy that does not want us to pray. He will tempt us with sleep, with distraction and anything else to discourage us from entering into this vital aspect of our relationship with God.
Use God’s Word to fight this battle.
If sleep blocks you from prayer memorize and speak the Scripture from Isaiah 40, “They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”
If distraction blocks you from prayer memorize and speak these Scriptures:
- Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
- And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he [Jesus] went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Mark 1:35)
What is your PROCEDURE for prayer?
Prayer is more than just ASKING. If you read Jesus “Master Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13 where he taught his disciples about prayer you will find that he includes praise of God, thanksgiving, confession of sin, along with asking.
Most of us know how to throw up prayers that ask God for things. This is not a bad thing, but if it is the only thing then we are missing out on the pattern of prayer that Jesus teaches us.
I would encourage us to take time and really emphasize times of prayer that include Praise of God. When God is bigger our prayers will become bigger in faith.
SAMPLE PROCEDURE (30 MINUTES FOR PRAYER)
PRAISE (5 minutes)
Spend time reminding yourself who God is. Some are encouraged in this by singing songs or praise, others lift their vision to God the Creator by being inspired by spending time out in nature and viewing creation.
THANKSGIVING (5 minutes)
Psalm 100 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving…” What are the things you can be truly thankful for in the last 24 hours?
BRING THE LIST (5 minutes)
Bring your heart-level needs and requests to God in prayer. Give God the list of things on your mind and ask for his help that you will not be anxious or distracted.
RESPOND TO GOD (10 minutes)
Open God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to read the Scripture. Consider following a bible reading plan so that you do not need to search for what to read.
As you read mark what stands out to you and respond to it.
For example: If you are reading about an aspect of God this may lead you to more praise, or asking the Lord to reveal this aspect of Himself more to you or others you know. If you are reading about a form of sin this may lead you to a time of confessing sin to God. If you are reading about a promise of God this may lead you to thank God, or ask Him to give you faith to believe this particular promise. If you are reading an exhortation to action (ie “seek to show hospitality”) you may pray for strength, courage or an opportunity to respond.
COMMIT YOUR DAY TO GOD (5 minutes)
Example: “Father, I belong to you. Make this day what you want it to be. Help me to do what You want me to do.”
May this post be a spark to encourage you in your walk with the Living God. Prayer is powerful. Prayer will change your world. Prayer can undoubtedly be a delight, but it usually must begin as a discipline. Bless you as you commit to a new venture with God in prayer.