Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to pray for one hour

At New Life Community Church we are in the midst of 21 days of prayer and fasting. Part of this includes each New Life location hosting 24hrs of non-stop prayer from 7pm on one day to 7pm the next. At New Life Lincoln Park where I am our 24hrs starts tonight. We have over 30 people signed up for 1hr blocks to pray for one another, our church, and our city.

Praying for an entire hour?!? Wouldn't you fall asleep? What all could you possibly pray about for that long?

Praying for an hour may seem intimidating at first but for the person prepared the time in reality flies by. At the end the prepared person would be checking the clock on their phone with astonishment asking, "That's it? That was an hour?"

Here's how you get ready to pray for an hour:
  • Figure out what you'll be praying for:
    • Write down personal things you'll be praying for. Suggestions:
      • Spiritual: how is your relationship with God?
      • Character: things to work on and things to embrace
      • Habits: good ones to develop or bad ones to stop
      • Ambitions: goals or dreams for the next year
      • Financial: what needs do you have? How will you sacrificially give this year?
    • Write down specific people you will pray for. Suggestions:
      • Friends
      • Neighbors
      • Family members
      • Church family
      • Co-workers or classmates
      • Chicago
  • Ask people how you can pray for them: you've written down various people's names, so why not contact them and tell them what you're doing. A quick text, email or phone call and you can ask how to be praying for them. It's better to know specifics from them then come up with generalities on your own.

  • Recruit people to pray with you: having an hour alone with God just might be the thing you need right now. On the other hand - it might be a great opportunity for community. Why not ask someone else from the church to come along and pray with you. Praying for one another's lists of needs and concerns can be a powerful time.
  • Pray through the Lord's Prayer: These are things Jesus told us to be praying about. Spend about 7-8 minutes on each of the sections. About 7-8 minutes on each also allows for silence and reading scripture.
    • Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name - thank Him and praise Him for who He is 
    • Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven -- pray about your relationship with Him. Pray about how you are doing living a Kingdom life. Pray about being completely surrendered on Him - that He is God and you are not.
    • Give us today our daily bread - Pray about your needs that you wrote down. Pray about the needs and concerns that you wrote down for others.
    • And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors - What do you need to ask God's forgiveness for? Who do you need to forgive?
    • And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one  - What do you need to ask God's help with? What do you need His protection in? What weakness do you need to be honest about?
  • Read scripture - Make sure you bring your Bible along and spend time reading. Pick one or two passages to read and go through them more than once. Read slowly and prayerfully. Ask God to make things stand out: to challenge you, to convict, to encourage. Suggestions:
    • James 1:2-18
    • Matthew 5:1-14
    • Psalm 23
    • Colossians 3:1-17 
    • Ephesians 5:1-20
  • Allow for silence - for a portion of the time just be quiet. Just be quiet and close your eyes (which means you may need to stand). You've probably talked for a bit so allow for God to speak. Prayer is a conversation so make sure you don't hog all of the time and never allow His voice to be heard. 
  • Don't sit in one place: You may want to start off sitting down. I like to journal so I'd be doing that. After a while you may want to stand and lean against a wall or walk around. You may want to kneel for a bit. Give yourself variety in your location and in how you hold yourself. But by all means - DON'T LAY DOWN!!!  =) 

You may have read this and aren't/didn't participate in the 24hrs of prayer. Why not schedule an hour on your own? Wake up a little early one day, pick a Saturday when you have some free time, or block off a night from other activities. Followers of Jesus are to be praying. It's not an elective, it's a required characteristic. Nothing can jump start that discipline in your life like an hour of prayer as explained above. Pray! Pray! Pray!

The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. - Matthew 26:40

No comments: