Note: I am not attempting to brag, rather I wish to aid you all! I promised in previous articles to post about my personal prayer time. Those articles can be found by clicking the links: Who Am I? I Am a Branch of the True Vine and Who Am I? I Am Heard.
So, since I gave you 3 applications to abide in Christ, I thought it would be helpful to show you an example of how you could structure your prayer time. Of course, I am the one serving as the example, so you do not have to follow what I do! However, I would encourage you to make a plan on how you will commit yourself to prayer, who you will pray for, and what you use to guide you.
The reason I find myself needing structure has to do with my personality. I love to be organized. I do not like spontaneity. Not that spontaneity is wrong, but I do not do well with improvisation. Also, I have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I have used this disorder as an excuse for many things, but I find the excuse lacking when it comes to my spiritual life. It probably lacks everywhere else too, but ADD is no excuse for not praying. So, I need structure or order, especially in my prayer time.
How do I structure my prayer time? Well, let me cover the basics by answering the when, where, what, why, and who of my prayer time.
When: I pray in the morning. Usually, that falls between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. The amount of time I pray depends on how much work I have to do and the time I have to do that work, but I can for sure say that I spend at least 20 minutes praying. At the most, my prayer time lasts 45 minutes. Not that I feel like there is a specific amount of time one should pray, but that is the time it takes for me to pray what I pray!
Where: I always pray in my office at the local church where I am serving. I have tried various places to pray at from my bedroom, my basement, outside, but none of these places allowed for me to find true focused privacy for prayer. The bedroom had video games to tempt me away from prayer, the basement had a TV that was connected to Netflix and people use the basement regularly for work/laundry, and the outdoors in Minnesota is unpredictable. It can be super windy one day, rainy the next, even snowing in April/May, and I just don’t have a good place to go outside that is secluded. So, I pray indoors at my church in my office with the door closed.
What: I use various things to aid me in my prayer time. The number one tool I use is Scripture. I have a Bible that is designated specifically for my prayer time. If you don’t believe me check out this post on how many Bibles I have: A Good Problem to Have.
What I do when using Scripture to guide my prayer is to pick 5 passages to read from and then pray from. For example: On March 10th, 2017 I read Psalm 119:81-88; Psalm 149; Acts 6:8-15; Galatians 1:1-10; and 2 Timothy 2:1-13. Then, after reading, I will write down in a small pocket-sized journal a few bullet points for prayer.
When I am reading the Psalms for my prayer time I use the ESV Psalms book. It is exactly what the title implies. It is just the Psalms, all 150, in a compact Bible-sized edition from the ESV translation. It is extremely helpful for me when I open the Psalms and see hundreds of chapters/verses to be able to just focus on on chapter at a time. When I pray through the psalms I will do the same thing as I do above. I will pick 5 psalms and go from there!
If you read 5 Psalms a day you would finish the Psalms, all 150 of them, in one 30 day month. Your first day might look like this: Psalm 1; Psalm 31; Psalm 61; Psalm 91; Psalm 121. Eventually, you would circle around to doing Psalm 30, 60, 90, 120, and 150 on the last day (if I remember right). Simple right?
The third tool I use is a pocket journal. I use this to record the day I prayed, what passages I read, who I prayed for, and what I prayed. My prayers are written in bullet point form so as to be brief and concise. My prayers are usually just the direct wording of a verse that I read in a passage, with a couple of modifications. For example, when I read Psalm 119:81-88 I prayed verse 88 for myself. This is what I wrote, “In Your steadfast love, O Lord, give me life. May I keep your Word.” Again, super simple and short!
So, that is what I use and a few examples how I use what I use!
Why: I have answered this a little above, but I will expand on why I do what I do in my prayer time. I have been a believer most of my life (since I was 6) and my prayer life had been lacking. I would pray all the time, but it wasn’t very productive/intentional. My prayer time was typically right before I fell asleep at night. I would lay in my bed looking at the ceiling pondering the events of my day. I would begin to pray for a few things about my day or what the next day held, but it would only last for about a minute before my mind began to wander or I fell asleep! When I turned 18 my prayer life changed. I began to pray publically in small groups or at the dinner table, so my prayers were usually more intentional then! When I went to Bible College I finally developed a good system to have a devotional/intentional prayer time. It looked nothing like it does now, but it was more than praying before I dozed off at night. So, the reason why I pray this way and do this is because I long to be intentional in my prayer life and Bible reading. This structure helps me tremendously!
Finally, Who: Who do I pray for? Well, as I have said, I have 5 Scripture passages that I use to guide my prayers. That means I have five separate things/people I pray for.
I always have a prayer of praise to God based on the text I just read. For example: Psalm 150:2, “Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!” So, my prayer of praise was: Lord, You have done mighty deeds for your people. You led the Israelites out of slavery and you have led the Believer out of the slavery to sin through the cross. You are excellent in all your ways! There is no other God, but You! etc.
I always pray for my wife. For the first few months of this year, she was searching for a job since she had just graduated from college. So, I would pray that the Lord would direct her steps to the right job and that she would trust in him to provide. After 2 months of praying those types of prayers for her based out of the passages I was reading God did provide a wonderful job for her that she truly enjoys.
I always pray for myself. That might seem selfish to pray for myself always, but really I need a lot of prayer! So, on one occasion this is what I prayed: After having read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 I prayed verse 10 for myself, “Lord, for the sake of Christ may I be content with my weaknesses, hardships, and trials so that Christ’s power would be glorified in my failings. May I boast only in Christ and what he has done for me, is doing for me, and has promised to do for me. Teach me to lean not on my own understanding, but in Christ alone.”
Then, my last two prayers are for various people. Sometimes relatives, friends, church members, the men of my church, the women of my church, the persecuted around the world, our church missionaries, people who have given me prayer requests, and so on.
That is the basic structure of my prayer time in the morning. It isn’t that fancy or complicated. I wish I could pray for more people, but I have not found a good way to incorporate more people in a specific way yet.
Bonus Tool: I have also used a book called Face to Face. This book is full of Scripture verses to be praying for yourself, others, and to God. It is a good place to start if you have never prayed from Scripture before!
I hope all of this encouraged you and exhorts you to pray! You don’t have to have a structure to do that, but maybe you need one like I do! I’d be happy to help you more if you want!