One Christian’s Imperfect Prayer Life (How I Do It)
Recently in our ABF Foundations study, we spent two weeks on the subject of prayer. Devotional plans and books seem to garner “headlines” with through-the-Bible-in-a-year plans, numerous devotional books and apps, and a number of helps that assist a person in having a plan to spend time in the Bible. Prayer is a bit more mysterious, not nearly as structured, and certainly not as precise.
In my ABF, most people actually said that they struggled with Bible reading more than prayer, but the opposite is true with me.
I certainly have not “gotten there” yet, but here is what my prayer life looks like right now .
First, as I understand it, prayer is communicating with God. In its simplest definition, prayer is talking to God. I would say that prayer is talking to God about what is important to God, and what is important to me. Prayer is where we invite God into our everyday lives. People talk about having a “personal relationship with God”; I don’t think that a person can say that without a consistent prayer life.
My prayer life with God is very transparent and very honest. I don’t keep any secrets from God (as if I could!). What I see in the prayers of the Psalms confirms that, although I am approaching a sovereign King, speaking to God in this way is both appropriate and welcomed by Him.
I pray as I walk the neighborhood in the morning. I love fresh air, I get a little bit of exercise, and there is very little risk of having my mind wander or of being interrupted (except by the senior citizen out for his morning run or by the lady walking her dog!).
My outline as I pray:
Praise (and thanksgiving)
The Bible is pretty clear that God welcomes my praise to Him, and that I am commanded “In every thing give thanks.” After telling God, “Good morning,” my mind and out-loud words speak to His Person – who He is. God is such an incredible Being, an incredible Person, there is so much to praise Him for. While He welcomes it, I also benefit. An approach to the day and to my prayer life even are given an accurate perspective when based on the loving, sovereign, faithful, powerful character of God!
I will then often review the previous day briefly with an attitude of thanksgiving. I thank God for what happened the previous day (including the things I wasn’t crazy about). At times, I sort of think through some of those things, gaining God’s perspective as I thank Him for allowing this into my life.
It is a great way to start prayer, and the day takes on proper meaning when my mind is settled on the fact that God does love me, and that He is working everything for my eternal good (Romans 8:28).
This involves two things:
- I respond to what I read in my devotions that morning. Man, so often I spend time in God’s Word (which I love)…but ten minutes later, I have just about forgotten what I read. This time is an excellent time to let the cement dry on the Scriptural thoughts I have meditated on that morning, just briefly talking to God about it and reflecting on it.
- I respond to the Holy Spirit, asking Him if there is anything in my life that is not pleasing to Him. The psalmist prayed, “Search me O God and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me…” I am aware that “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me,” and so confession of sin at this point is important. Asking God’s help to gain victory, and even thinking, talking and strategizing is part of this prayer step.
This is the point where I do what God commands and encourages me to do – ask Him in regard to my requests.
My prayer list is divided into two parts:
- My daily requests
- My rotating categorized requests
My daily requests consist of the people who are closest to me, such as my wife, my kids, my pastor, etc.
My rotating requests are organized on a phone app called Prayer Mate. Prayer mate allows me to organize categories such as missionaries, unsaved people I am praying for, sections of our youth group, church staff, and whatever else a person wants to pray for. Each day, according to the pattern a person sets, the app rotates one (or however many you want) person or request within that section that you can pray for.
Here is a review of the Prayer Mate app: https://www.challies.com/resources/prayermate/
This is a natural final step to prayer, as I finish up my prayer time, looking ahead to the day. I like to round it out by asking for God’s help in whatever I am going to be involved with that day, in essence, handing the day over to Him.
Prayer is work, it takes time, but it certainly is commanded by God, produces a peace in my life (Philippians 4:6), and allows me to talk to the best Friend I could and will ever have. Les Ollila made the statement: “Prayer is not a demonstration of discipline; it is a declaration of dependence.” If I understand life properly, I don’t pray because I am supposed to; I pray because I understand that I need to.
As Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Written by Pastor DeAngelo, Pastor of Youth and Outreach