The Bible says to “pray without ceasing.” How can we pray without stopping? I don’t know about you, but early in my walk with God my question was, “How can I pray for five minutes without stopping?”
Then in January 2018, my pastor Joel Southerland challenged me to try a 17-minute prayer plan he had developed. This experiment changed my life. However, my prayer time wasn’t really 17 minutes. The first day was 33 minutes. The next day it was 35. I found myself craving more time in prayer.
For the first time, prayer was not something I hurried to finish, but became a passion I pursued for as long as possible each day. Soon I was spending at least an hour, an often longer, praying every morning. I even started waking up early because I wanted more time alone with God.
I tell people that I don’t pray before I go to work. Prayer is the work. It’s difficult. We’d much rather stay up late watching a movie than humbling ourselves in prayer. I get it. That used to be me.
But I know there is something better for your soul and mine. We were made for time with our heavenly Father.
Let me briefly share the strategy I use to enhance my daily prayer. I personally use index cards, but you can use any form of paper or digital device. Using index cards allows me to take them with me when I travel. I don’t have to worry about charging a phone battery. In this prayer plan, there are six areas of focus:
3- Spiritual Warfare & Scripture Memory
4- Praying for Others
5- Praying for Yourself
6- Thanksgiving & Praying for your home church
Praise begins by praising God for who He is. His majesty, omnipresence, omnipotence, and more. I often find myself singing to God at this point as well.
1 John 1:9 teaches, “If you confess your sins he is faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” You must cleanse your heart. I have sins that I struggle with every day. These can include pride, anger, people pleasing, bad diet, or other areas.
One thing my pastor Joel has said is, “Sins don’t go away by osmosis; they go away by confession.”
Scripture Memory and Spiritual Warfare
After confession, I focus on spiritual warfare and Scripture memory. I claim Ephesians 6:10-18 and read it out loud every day.
For Scripture memory, find an easy verse you can read every day until it becomes a part of you. When that verse is memorized, then write down another verse and add to it. This is not a sprint; it is a marathon.
Praying for Others
It is a daily discipline to pray for others. I always start this with praying for my wife and son.
I divide the next part of praying for others by day. I split it up Monday through Friday.
-On Monday, I pray for my co-workers.
-On Tuesday, I pray for ministers, evangelists, men of God and women of God that are making a difference for the kingdom of God.
-On Wednesday, I pray for our governing leaders in the state and government. Romans 13 says we need to pray for our leaders daily. I pray for our president, our governor, the mayor of the city, and school principals and staff.
-On Thursday, I pray for my extended family. I pray for my parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. I pray for my wife’s family. I pray for lost family members. I pray that God will work in their lives and draw them closer to salvation.
-On Friday, I pray for church members. I pray for those I lead, my volunteers, and I also pray for people I know who have yet to be saved. I pray that God would give me an opportunity to share Jesus with them or someone else would share the gospel with them.
Praying for Yourself
This part comes naturally, but fits much better after praying for the needs of others. I have different quotes from books I have written out to encourage me in this area. I ask for God’s blessing on my life. I also pray for specific situations that are personal to me.
Finally, I end my time of prayer in thanks to God. I have a list of things I thank God for, including my family, my wife, my son, God giving me another day to live, salvation, the cross, the resurrection, and much more.
I always end it with thanking God for the past 24 hours, whether it was rekindling a relationship with a friend, a miracle that happened in someone’s life, or a blessing that happened in my life. Then I thank God for my home church. I pray for blessings over my church, I pray over the vision of my church, and I pray for the mission of my church.
There is much more that could be shared, but these six areas can help you with the how-to aspects of praying without ceasing. As you practice these prayer habits, remember I am praying for you! God is at work in your life. He has a plan for your day. Part of His plan if for you to invest time with Him in prayer. Why not try these areas in your own life to pray without ceasing today?
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