For many, many years I have tried to start the day by setting aside time to read the Bible and pray. Whilst I was working in industry and had a young family I would get up early to spend time with God before the rest of the family were awake. At one stage my boys would join me and we would read a children’s bible and pray together, special times and memories.
However, I always found reading the Bible easier than praying and I ended up spending much more time in Bible study than in prayer. In the months, immediately before leading my first church I was challenged about the depth and quality of my prayer life, was it sufficient to build a church on? I knew the answer was no. I therefore set myself the task of developing my prayer life. What I put in place then has stood the test of time, I follow the same basic structure now, over 20 years later.
I am not suggesting you follow my pattern, but I am encouraging you as part of our focus on prayer this month to review your prayer life and see if it needs any development.
My pattern has four distinct elements.
- I read a chapter or two from the Bible, a different section each day.
- I then journal in a note book. I write todays date and then the word yesterday. I then prayerful reflect on the previous day, writing down what I learnt, what I felt God was doing.
- I then read from a devotional book. Currently it is a biography of Martin Luther, before that it was a theological book by Tom Wright, one of my favourite authors. I try to read a book to encourage my praying at least once a year.
- I then write out my prayers in the same book used for my journal. I write prayers under four heading, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. ACTS.
If you feel challenged to develop your prayer life may I suggest that you start by reading a book on prayer as well as setting aside some time each day to pray.
Books I have found helpful include
Too busy not to pray by Bill Hybels (The book that more than any other revolutionised my prayer life so many years ago.)
Ordering your private world by Gordon MacDonald (Covers much more than just prayer, but another book that helped me develop my relationship with God.)
Prayer by Tim Keller (I more recent book, a little harder to read but worth it.)
The circle maker by Mark Batterson (His story of the power of prayer in his ministry, easy reading)
Fresh wind, fresh fire by Jim Cymbala (Another story of the power of prayer)
May 2017 be a year where your prayer life moves to a different level.
Written by Tony Thompson