Prayer can sometimes be like writing a letter. The writer sits down to write and stares at the page. No words come so he decides not to write a letter.
When it comes to prayer, we sometimes stare into space for a minute, no words come so we decide not to pray.
Jesus knows that we need some tutoring when it comes to prayer. Even his apostles asked him one day, “teach us to pray”!
He responded with what has come to be known as the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father”. Conveniently, the prayer can be divided into 6 key components (10 minutes for each component = one hour of prayer). If you want to pray for an hour in your prayer closet, with a friend or in church, following is a sample hour of prayer based on the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name – 7:00pm to 7:10pm
Note the very first word, “Our”. Prayer is to be shared. There are times of private prayer, but here Jesus teaches his disciples the importance of corporate prayer. Note also that Jesus teaches us to begin our prayer with praise. “Hallowed” is an old word that means to revere or highly esteem. We are to highly esteem His Name.
God’s name reveals his divine nature. Open the book of Psalms for a rich list of his character traits. Here’s a brief sampling. Praise God because, evil does not dwell with Him (Psalm 5:4). He is a Just Judge (Psalm 7:11). His Name is exalted in all the earth (Psalm 8:1). He is King forever and ever (Psalm 10:16). In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11) And the list goes on. Thank and praise Him for his awesome nature. Don’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit carries you along, and your initial ten minutes of praise takes up the entire hour! Run with it and revel in the experience!
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – 7:10pm to 7:20pm
This time of prayer is known as intercession. We are to pray that God’s kingdom comes, and that what is happening in heaven happens on earth. Begin by asking two questions. “What is God’s kingdom like”, and “What is happening in heaven that needs to happen on earth”?
The answers to these two questions could fill volumes, but let’s look at a couple of prayer nuggets that we can grab onto for our hour of prayer.
First, God’s kingdom is found wherever He is honored as king. This can be in our hearts, in our relationships and reflected in our thoughts and actions. Pray that His kingdom would come in each of these spheres of life.
Second, there are things happening in heaven that need to happen on earth. God’s will is unopposed in heaven. Evil is vanquished in heaven. God is everywhere worshiped in heaven. There are no tears or pain in heaven. Pray that these things happen in your life, church and city as well.
Give us this day our daily bread – 7:20pm to 7:30pm
This is the part of Jesus’ prayer syllabus that comes most naturally. We love to pray for our needs. There is nothing wrong with that. God delights in providing what we need! Keep in mind that He already knows what we need. He tells us to pray this way, not so that He might be illuminated, but that we might be reminded in fresh ways that He is the source of all good things.
During this time of prayer, keep in mind the two preceding sections. Jesus said he had food that his disciples knew nothing about (John 4:32). Prioritize what is important to you according to what is important to God. He prioritizes his own glory and the establishment of His kingdom on earth. That’s the delicious food for which Jesus hungered! And remember his promise, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of these other things (like daily bread, monthly rent, physical healing, etc) will be added to you as well.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us – 7:30pm to 7:40pm
This is the only part of prayer in which God’s actions are contingent upon our actions. If we do not forgive others He will not forgive us. God, in his sovereignty will be glorified with or without us. His kingdom will come with or without us. He graciously gives bread to the good bad and the ugly alike. But he will not forgive us if we don’t extend forgiveness to others. Forgiveness is that important!
Use this time of prayer to urgently ask forgiveness for your own transgressions first, and then extend that same life-giving forgiveness to those who have harmed you.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one – 7:40pm to 7:50pm
This is the time of prayer when we put on our spiritual armor for spiritual warfare prayer. Remember Jesus said that high caliber spiritual resistance could only be overcome by spiritual means. When his disciples were confronted with an overwhelming demonic attack Jesus told them, “This kind (of demon) cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29)
Consider in prayer any overwhelming temptation or opposition you or your church are facing as you seek to establish God’s kingdom on earth. Chances are, there are demonic forces seeking to thwart your efforts. Take a page from Jesus’ own battle plan when he was confronted by the devil. Three times he responded to the evil one’s temptation and lies by saying, “It is written….” (Matthew 4)
Proclaim God’s truth in prayer, for there is nothing that a liar hates more than the truth. Lies run from truth as the morning fog flees the rising sun.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever – 7:50-8:00
As we began, so we end – in heartfelt praise to God. Close your time in prayer by declaring his power and glory. Thank Him for the awesome privilege of approaching boldly His throne of grace!
A final word about this model prayer program. God’s sovereignty, Christ’s authority and the Spirit’s intervention cannot be scripted. Jesus, in his model prayer, gave us principles to guide us, not words for mindless repetition. There’s nothing sacred about an hour of prayer either. Be a God chaser, not a clock watcher!