How to spend an hour in prayer
Here are some practical suggestions for enlarging and enriching your prayer life. If you've never spent an hour in prayer let this outline for each five-minute period help you through the first time. Later you may want to shorten or omit one or more of these emphases so as to give additional time to other aspects of prayer.
You, your home church, missions—and many more—will experience the difference prayer makes.
Warren Webster, CBFMS general director
Have you ever considered giving God a daily gift of just one hour? You could be with him in prayer and the reading of his Word. Those who do, have the privilege of giving God 365 hours each year, or the equal to forty-five "eight-hour" days.
"But how can anyone possibly pray an entire hour?" To answer this question I asked God to show me how to structure an hour in prayer with scripturally-based aspects. Twelve came to mind. Conveniently, each hour can be divided into twelve five-minute "points of focus," allowing specific time for each of these vital areas. Of course, some of these aspects may require only a minute, whereas others—such as intercessory prayer for the world—will require far more than a mere five minutes. Following is a description of how to spend an hour in prayer.
Ps. 63:3; Heb. 12:15; Matt. 6:9b
All prayer should begin with a recognition of God's nature. The Lord's prayer—our model for all praying— begins with "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." Praise is that aspect of prayer which vocally esteems God for his virtues and accomplishments.
Ps. 37:7; Is. 40:31; Lam. 3:25
Not only should we begin it with praise, but time also should be given to being "quiet" in God's presence. This is not meditation, or just a time for listening; it is simply taking time to let God love you!
Ps. 139:23, 24; Ps. 51:10,11; 1 John 1:9 The Psalmist asked God to search his heart for uncon-fessed sin. He knew sin was one of the greatest roadblocks to answered prayer (see Ps. 66:18). Early in prayer we need to make time for confession. This clears the way for powerful praying.
4. The Word
II Tim. 3:16; Ps. 19:7, 8
"The commandment of the Lord (God's Word) is pure, enlightening the eyes," wrote young King David. When we bring God's Word into our prayer we are opening our eyes to new possibilities in God. At this point in prayer we read God's Word.
1 Tim. 2:1,2; Ps. 2:8; Matt. 9:37, 38 Our prayer now centers on intercession for a lost and dying world. This concerns praying for others who have desperate needs. Of course, intercession is one aspect of prayer where five minutes will never do.
Matt. 7:7; Matt. 6:11; James 4:2
This aspect of prayer concerns our personal needs. Petition is included in the Lord's prayer in the expression, "Give us this day our daily bread." To petition God is to open our need to God through prayer.
7. The Word
Jer. 23:29; II Sam. 22:31; Num. 23:19 Earlier we suggested you read God's Word. Now we pray God's Word. Here we bring actual Scripture into our prayer. We can never pray out of God's will when we pray God's Word.
Phil. 4:6; Ps. 100:4
When Paul wrote to the Philippians he instructed them to offer prayer and supplication "with thanksgiving." Thanksgiving differs from praise in that praise recognizes God for who he is, while thanksgiving recognizes God for specific things he has done.
Ps. 100:2; Eph. 5:19; Ps. 144:9
Melody in its truest sense is a gift of God for the purpose of singing praises unto him. Many Christians, unfortunately, have never learned the beauty of singing a "new" song unto God during prayer. These songs may
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come straight from the heart with the Holy Spirit creating the melody. After all, Paul spoke of singing "spiritual songs" (Eph. 5:19). To sing unto the Lord is to worship God in melody.
Jos. 1:8; Ps. 1:1, 2; Ps. 77:12
To wait in God's presence is simply to be there to love
him. Meditation differs in that our mind is very active.
To meditate is to ponder spiritual themes in reference to
Ecc. 5:2; 1 Kings 19:11, 12
Whether through his written Word or by an inner "still small voice" of his Holy Spirit, God speaks to praying Christians. But we must take time to listen.
Matt. 6:13; Ps. 100:4; Ps. 150.
We begin our prayer by recognizing God's nature, and we end in similar fashion. Jesus taught this when he ended his prayer with the statement, "For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen!"
Thus, we have a simple, twelve-step plan for filling an hour with meaningful prayer. These are just suggestions—everyone has a different "prayer life." Developing such a prayer habit will lead you into a ministry that not only changes you, but the world around you as well!
CBFMS has materials available to help strengthen your prayer life. These include the monthly publications, PRAYER CALENDAR and WORLD PRAYER FELLOWSHIP BULLETIN, and the pamphlets HOW TO PRAY FOR MISSIONARIES and the PRAYER DIARY. Write CBFMS, Box 5, Wheaton, IL, 60187 for details.
For further reading:
Eastman, Dick. The Hour That Changes the World, A Practical Plan for Personal Prayer, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978. 161 pp.
Sanny, Lome C. How to Spend a Day in Prayer, Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1962. (booklet, 22 pp.)
"Could ye not watch with me one hour?" Matthew 26:40
Record your own items of praise, 'thanksgiving, intercession and petition as a personal reminder.
Clip and save this section for use in your hour of prayer.