Along with words to encourage you or help you to encourage others, I hope to provide resources or training to help us live out our faith. This is the first in a series on helps for your personal prayer life. Coming tomorrow, helpful resources to pray for all the relationships in your life, for missionaries and your pastor. Today’s focus will be on a helpful pattern for prayer and using the Bible to help pray for friends who already know God and for friends who need to know God better.
Many people have found prayer particularly challenging. They muster up all their self-discipline and courage. They get on their knees and then say, “What do I do now?!” Personally, I have often found it helpful to have a variety of resources available to help me stay focused during prayer. I share this not because I am a spiritual giant with much to offer. I share these because I often find it such a struggle to get started in prayer and even after getting started to then stay focused.
Perhaps the most helpful resource I have ever found for prayer is God’s Word itself. Sometimes we pray way too mildly because we may not be sure that something is God’s will. When we turn Bible verses that we are reading into actual prayers for ourselves and others, we can be pretty sure we are praying in God’s will. Keep reading for some helpful examples.
I may be a little unusual, but I have often found a countdown timer extremely helpful. If I have set aside a certain span of time for prayer, I found that I would be checking the clock way too often to make sure I didn’t go overtime—like that’s a real worry! I found that if I set a countdown timer, my mind is no longer distracted by the clock.
Finally, I have often found a pattern of prayer has helped me to stay focused and balanced in my prayers. It’s so easy to only come to God when we want something. We all have friends that only seem to pop up when they are in need. How do you feel when you see them coming? I think you get the idea. There are many similar prayer methods, etc. The following pattern has been a tremendous help for me.
- Adoration: Begin your prayer time praising God for who He is—not for what He has done for us—that will come later. This helps us focus on our relationship with God himself.
(Psalms 19, 29, 146 – 150)
- Confession: After a time of focusing on the goodness and character of God, we can’t help but see ourselves a little differently. Ask God to reveal to us the areas of our life that need attention. (Psalms 51, 32, 139)
- Thanksgiving: Now is the time to thank God for the many blessings that we enjoy. Sometimes, this comes easily. Sometimes, we need to make ourselves intentionally focus on what God has already done. (Psalm 50:1; 92:1; 35:18; Phil 4:6)
- Supplication: Now is the time to bring our requests to God. Supplication is not a word most of us use every day, but it’s a good word to use in this context. It has the idea of urgency or earnestness (seriousness). We don’t come to God indifferently but with a concern that has burdened our hearts and we bring those requests to God. (Many examples follow) (1 Pet 5:7)
Praying the Scriptures for Friends who know God
- Ps 27:1. LORD you are ________‘s light and salvation– help (him/her) to trust you and not to fear. LORD you are the stronghold of (his/her) life– of whom shall (he/she) be afraid?
- Ps 27:2. May you help ________ to be confident in the face of all attacks fully trusting in you.
- Ps 27:5. Lord when ________ has a day of trouble,
may you keep (him/her) safe in your dwelling;
hide (him/her) in the shelter of your tabernacle
and set (him/her) high upon a rock.
- Ps 27:6. When ________ serves you may (he/she) do it with shouts of joy; may (he/she) sing and make music to you, LORD.
- Ps 28:1. May _________ call to you, O LORD my Rock; and may you hear (his/her) prayer.
- Ps 28 7. LORD, you are our strength and our shield; may ________’s heart trust in you and be helped. May _______ leap for joy and give thanks to you in song.
- Ps 29:1. May _______ ascribe to you O LORD, glory and strength.
- Ps 29:2 May _______ ascribe to you O LORD the glory due your name;
- Ps 29:3 May _______ worship you in the splendor of your holiness.
Strategic Prayer Focus for Friends who need God
Identify two or three people in your sphere of influence that you believe desperately need Jesus. List their names below so that you pray for each of them.
_____________ _____________ _____________
- Lord, I pray that you draw these to Yourself. (John 6:44)
- I pray that they will seek to know You. (Acts 17:27)
- I pray that they hear and believe the Word for what it really is. (I Thes. 2:13)
- I ask You to prevent Satan from blinding them to the truth. (II Cor. 4:4; II Tim. 2:25-26)-
- Holy Spirit, I ask You to convict them of their sin and need for Christ’s redemption. (John 16:7-14)
- I ask that You send someone to share the Gospel with them. (Matt 9:37-38)
- I pray that they would put all of their trust in Christ. (John 1:12; 5:24)
- I pray that they confess Christ as Lord and grow in faith and bear fruit for Your glory. (Rom. 10:9-10)
(Excerpted from Search & Rescue: Becoming a Disciple Who Makes a Difference, Neil Cole, Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2008)
Have any of these inspired you? Any tips you can share with us?