I mentioned in a post last week how I have been working on my prayer life. While I was pregnant with Peach I started attending two moms groups in my area. I wanted to get established in a group before Peach was born hoping that if I had already made it a part of my routine, it would be easier to go once she came along. I am loving spending time with other moms!
In one of the groups (FaithMoms) we read the book Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels. The book was an easy read and started some great conversations for our group. One of the things we looked at was patterns of prayer. Using the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern for how to pray (which is how Christ intended it) is the method I am currently using…and really enjoying.
I have a notebook where I am recording my prayers. Each time I write a heading for each section (ie. Worship) and then list out the things I am praying for that section. Writing out what my thoughts and prayers are really helps to keep me focused.
WORSHIP “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)
I start by worshiping the One to whom I am praying. He is our Father which means we have a personal relationship with Him and yet He is the all-powerful God of the universe. His name is holy, and He is holy. We should come before Him acknowledging who He is and what He has done for us.
A great place to go for worship is to the Psalms. I am working my way through the Psalms picking out things that describe His great character.
SURRENDER/SUBMISSION “Your kingdom come, you will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
God is omnipotent (all powerful) and His will WILL be accomplished. By acknowledging this and asking for it, we are surrendering and submitting to His will.
This is the time that I list out things that I have been worrying about. I write them out and (try to) surrender them and no longer worry about them. Sometimes it is things out of my control (like when Peach was going to arrive) and other times it is something I need to work on but know I need to stop worrying and submit to God’s will. I also sometimes add things I’d like to see happen in the future (ie. praying for Peach’s salvation or for her future spouse). I will admit there are things that make this list every single day, things I am working on overcoming and giving to the Lord.
DAILY BREAD & OTHER NEEDS “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11)
I divide this next section into two groups. First is daily bread. I ask myself – what do I need today? This is a great exercise in seeing Matthew 6:23 come to life: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is it’s own trouble.” I was reminded during one of our assembly meetings on Sunday that God gives us His grace as we need it and not before. God gives us what we need to get through the day. It is rather refreshing to see that each day there really is not much I need. I often include things like strength and rest (especially with the new baby) and for peace in our home. If I know something is going on in the life of friends or family on a particular day, I will include that here as well.
Then I move onto other needs. I use this section to pray for friends and family members or other long term needs that I am not worrying about (see Submission/Surrender above). Some needs will be in this section on some days but in the surrender section on another day depending on my attitude.
CONFESSION “and forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12)
This is definitely the most challenging part for me and probably would be for anyone. When I started doing this I committed to being honest with myself about where I am failing. And sometimes it is tougher to write it down than to think about it. I guess part of it is fear that someone will read my notebook and see what I struggle with. I do think it is good for me to record it though – if for no other reason than having something to look back and to see how God has worked. I certainly don’t make an exhaustive list everyday but I do try to think through the previous day and ask God to show me how I was sinning and what I can work on. And there are things that go on the list over and over.
WORSHIP/PRAISE For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory forever and ever.
Although this last phrase is not with the prayer in Matthew (or Luke), it is added to the prayer traditionally. I use it as a reminder to go back to that heart of worship and also to praise the Lord. I look back at previous prayers to see what God has answered as well as regularly praise Him for my husband and little girl.
This pattern of prayer has been really helpful in keeping me focused and disciplined in my prayers. As I was writing this post I realized there are a few other phrases in Matthew that I have not made a part of my prayer. I think I might have to add those in.
What about you? What have you found helpful in your own life for prayer?