Every Christian desires to have a healthy prayer life. We know that this is what we are called to do. We see in scripture a clear picture of the access we have to God through prayer and yet many of us struggle to maintain a healthy prayer life. Tim Challies once said, “A healthy prayer life consists not only of prayer but also of preparation.” I am convinced that a big reason we struggle is a lack of preparation. Very little thought goes into who, what, when and where we should be praying. So often we sit down to pray and after a few minutes we run out of things to pray for or we are distracted and lose focus or we default to selfish wants.
If we are going to grow in this area, a little upfront preparation and legwork is needed. In other words, taking the time to organize your prayer life will help increase the quality and quantity of your prayers.
Here are a few methods to help you get started with preparing to pray.
Using a stack of index cards, create a deck of prayer prompts. When you sit down to pray, you simply flip through the deck and focus on one card at a time. Here are some categories to get you thinking as well as scriptures to help guide your prayers. (See Paul Miller’s “A Praying Life” for more details and helps on using cards.)
- 4-10 Family Cards (one for each person)
- 1-3 People-in-Suffering Cards
- Hebrews 13:5 I will never leave you or forsake you.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
- 1 Friend Card –
- Proverbs 12:26 The righteous choose their friends carefully
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
- 1 Non-Christians card –
- Luke 19:10 – For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
- Romans 10:13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
- 1 Missionary Card
- 1 Chronicles 16:24 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
- 1 Ministries Card
- Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
- 1-3 World or Cultural-Issues Card
- Abortion –
- Gender confusion –
- 1 Work/School Card
- 1 Cor 10:31 …whatever you do, do all to the glory of God
- 3-5 Repentance Cards
- Psalm 38:18 I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.
- 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- 3-5 Big Request Cards
This is basically the index card method, but on your phone via the app. Their website says, “Whether it’s your personal prayer points for friends and family, regular updates from some fantastic mission organizations, or the latest PDF prayer letter that just arrived in your inbox, PrayerMate puts it all together in one place and helps you get on and pray.”
Don’t forget to put your phone in airplane mode to avoid those distractions.
An Outline for 45 Minutes of Prayer
The thought of praying for 45 minutes overwhelmed me until I found Dr. Kelly’s outline. In the back of his book “Why Pray if God Already Knows”, he includes this helpful guide for what to pray by breaking it into smaller bite-size chunks.
- 5 Min – Praise – Mentally and verbally honor God for who He is and for what He has done.
- 5 min – Waiting – Be still before the Lord and seek to appropriate His presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you concentrate your attention upon the Lord.
- 5 min – Confession – Be very honest and specific about your sins. Confess them, name them specifically in order to humbly but gladly to claim such promises as 1 John 1:9
- 5 min – Scripture Praying – Take portions of scripture and ask God to apply them in your life and in the situations for which you are concerned. What you read before you turned to prayer will often be of assistance in this process.
- 5 min – Watching – Seek to be alert to what is going on around you in the spiritual and material world. Think of current local, national, and international news events from this perspective.
- 15 min – Intercession – Here it is very important to be specific… use [your prayer cards or] some kind of prayer list.
- 5 min – Thanksgiving – Thank God for His wonderful triune existence and for His infinite goodness to His church in general, as well as to you in particular.
If you desire to have a more healthy prayer life, take some time this week to prepare for prayer. My suggestion is to pick one of these methods above and spend some of your devotional time working through them and getting organized. The hard work now will pay off later as you see your desire to pray and ability to stay focused grow. The real benefit will be watching the Lord work in and through your own prayers as you come “in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, to present your requests to God”.
Author: Rev. Wes Andrews