Tim Challies Christian Blog and Commentary

Teach Me How to Pray (II)

A few days ago I shared some wisdom from my friend Tim Kerr who told me how he organizes his prayer life. Obviously the most important part of a prayer life is just praying—I’m sure it’s very easy to get hung up on questions of procedure while forgetting to actually just pray—but I am also very eager to learn how other people collect and organize all of the things they may need to pray for in a day or in a week. After all, each of us has many things we could pray for on any given day. How do we pray for the right things? How do we pray for the best things? How do we ensure that we are consistently praying for all the people and all the things we ought to pray for? Experience shows that if I do not maintain some kind of a system, I will naturally gravitate toward praying for the things that are most urgent to me while neglecting many other good things I ought to pray.

I recently asked this question of Brian Croft. His answer was quite simple, but still useful.

Within the first hour I am up, I read God’s Word and spend time praying those truths I read for my own soul, my wife and children.  It is in the form of praise and thanksgiving, confession of sin, requests for our lives.  I pray the gospel to myself at this time and prepare to have it on my mind throughout my day.  Then, I pray for my tasks as a pastor, praying for faithfulness in shepherding God’s people and the handling of God’s Word.

I pray throughout the day for God to open my heart and mind to His Word as I study to prepare to preach.


I try to take another time later in the day and pray specifically for the needs of our church.  I systematically pray through the prayer directory so that in a month I have prayed for everyone.  At our monthly pastor’s meeting, we pray for every member by name.  It takes time, but it is worth it.

As I am with my people each day, I make sure I pray for them with them.  I often ask the question, why and how should I pray, but the better question to ask as I am with my people is, “Why should I not pray with them now?”  This approach leaves me praying several times a day on the phone or in person with our folks.

3 to 4 evenings a week we have family worship where we have a significant time of prayer as a family.

Monday through Thursday I meet with each of my children individually to read God’s Word and pray for them with them.