Prayer is a spiritual journey. Just as a journey from your present location to the other side of the country requires that you have a plan to reach your destination, you need a plan to assist you in your spiritual journey of prayer. Prayer is your personal communication with God. Since this is your spiritual destination every day, you need a plan to help you reach your destination effectively and consistently.
In my own life, I have observed that the greatest times in my prayer life have been those in which I followed a specific plan of action for prayer. Here is a plan that I have used from time to time, and I often customize it as I go. Perhaps it will help you or at least serve as a guide. You can modify this plan to meet your own personal prayer needs.
The plan I am suggesting has four features that I believe make it accessible to everyone.
*Simple. This plan is simple for everyone to use. Whether you want to move into another dimension in your prayer life or are teaching a child to pray, I believe this plan can be beneficial.
*Sequential. There is a sense of order to this plan. If this is your first attempt to establish a prayer plan or you have used other plans, a sequential plan can help you. Simplicity combined with sequence produces relevance and productivity, particularly for followers of Christ.
*Specific. One of the reasons this plan is so dynamic is that it leads you to pray for people, ministries, organizations, problems, and situations in a specific manner.
*Spiritual. This plan incorporates the Word of God into your prayer and encourages the dynamic of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of prayer.
You can modify this plan to meet your own personal prayer needs, but it can be a useful tool that will make a real difference in your spiritual life.
Step One: Read God’s Word
I believe it is very important to listen to God speak daily through His Word. What He says in His Word will prepare you to talk to Him and will influence what you say to Him in prayer. Always keep in mind that the Word of God and prayer go hand in hand. As you continue through the steps, keep your Bible open near you.
Step Two: Pray
When you pray, follow these principles:
- Confession: Effective prayer occurs when you talk to God and listen to what God is saying to you. Sin clogs the lines of communication between you and God. Therefore, confess your sin and your helplessness to God. Confession and repentance are very important in the life of the growing Christian. God hears and answers your prayers when your heart yearns to be clean and right with Him.
- Praise: Praise is the expression of your love and adoration for who God is. In your time of praise, focus on three attributes of God’s character. Make this a rich time of worship between you and your Creator.
- Thanksgiving: This is the expression of gratefulness to God for all the things He has done for you. Thank him for provisional, physical, and spiritual blessings. Thank Him for people who have blessed you. Take the time to say, “Thanks, God.”
- Petition: During this time, focus your prayer on personal needs you want to present to God. Do not pray for others yet; pray for the things you believe to be within God’s will for your own life. You can use a personal prayer notebook to record God’s answers to the requests you lift up to Him for both yourself and others.
- Intercession: Intercession is the privilege of standing in the gap between the God of heaven and the person you are praying for at the time. Remember: God is attracted to the specific prayers you pray for yourself and others.
- Urgent Requests: During your prayer time, you will also want to list urgent requests to pray for every day. An urgent prayer request is so critical that it requires daily attention from you for a specific time or until the crisis has passed. When God places an urgent need on someone else’s life upon your heart, commit yourself to pray for that person daily.
Focus-Day Requests: As you become familiar with the basic principles of this plan, you may choose to add an additional layer of intercession that involves focusing your prayer on a special area each day. Consider the following schedule:
- Sunday: World missions and missionaries
- Monday: Lost and unchurched
- Tuesday: United States of America
- Wednesday: Friends
- Thursday: Christian leaders
- Friday: Your local church
- Saturday: Relatives
When you add focus-day requests to your times of intercession, you will have a healthy balance of prayer. Be careful not to overload this section because too many requests on your prayer list may overwhelm you and even squelch your desire to pray. But remember: Prayer is work!
Step Three: Journal
I believe in the life-changing power of closing your time with God by writing a one-page letter to God. On this one page, you will be recapturing your main burdens as well as the joy of answered prayers. Journaling provides a means of concrete communication with God. It also provides a sense of relief from your burdens. As you document your walk with God in this way, your faith in the power of prayer will increase. Journaling can become one of the greatest dynamics in your prayer life.
Just do it!
This is a suggested plan intended to help you, not bind you. Feel free to customize it according to your desires. The Holy Spirit will work through this plan, granting you spiritual liberty as you communicate with God. In time, these steps will become natural for you. Do not make the plan itself holy. What is holy is when you meet with God in a personal and intimate way every day of your life.
Enjoy the journey! It’s worth it, so just do it!
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is the Senior Pastor of Cross Church, Immediate Past President of the Southern Baptist Convention, founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry, and host of the Ronnie Floyd on Life and Leadership Today podcast.
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Publication date: May 19, 2017