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When To Pray
How To Pray
What To Pray
The Bible is pretty clear about our need to pray. God's Word commands it:
Luke 18:1 and Ephesians 6:18.
When To Pray
We should pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The type of prayer that is called
for in many of our life situations is in many ways like pushing a heavy load
up a hill. Your progress may be slow at times, and you need to stop from time
to time in order to rest and renew your strength. The nature of loads on
hills however is that when you are not pushing, the load is often slipping
backwards down the hill. If you "rest" too long, you may find that that the
load has returned to the point at which you started pushing. In fact, it may
have even slipped further back than your starting point!
You need to pray often enough so that the burden for which you are praying
actually makes it over the "top of the hill" where it won't slip
back any more. Of course, by the time you get one burden to the "top of
the hill" there is
usually another burden at the foot of the next hill to take its place. Nevertheless,
it's important that our prayers actually accomplish something. After all, James
5:16-18 assures us that the prayer of a righteous man (or woman) is powerful
If you truly want to be effective in prayer remember - pray continually! Why
not take a few minutes to pray right now? While you're at it, don't forget
to pray for our ministry here at Life Church!
How To Pray
As believers, we find that we have to use different types of prayer for different
situations. Now matter what type of prayer we are using, our goal should be
effectiveness. We should be seeing the things that we are praying for coming
it is always
best to begin your times of prayer with worship. Worship happens when we praise
God for who he is and thank him for what he has done. You don't need to use
religious language - just take an extended period of time to express to God
in your own words how you appreciate him. Don't let your worship depend on
your feelings either. If you feel like worshipping - go for it! Even if you
don't feel like worshipping however, God is still awesome and worthy of our
praise and gratitude. Worship him anyway! The following passages are a small
sample of what God's Word tells us about worship:
Whether you're creating a new piece of clothing or taking time out to pray,
it is helpful to have a pattern to follow. Jesus gave us a pattern when the
disciples asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1-4). We will use an expanded
version of this prayer pattern:
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our
Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be
done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive
us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into
temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’" (Matthew 6:3-13)
From this pattern we learn the following:
- Prayer is addressed to the Father.
- We must first acknowledge the Father's holiness. We can do this by worshipping
the Father - praising him for who he is, and thanking him for what he has
- Our prayer must be for the Father's will to be done on the earth just as
it is done in heaven. This means that our prayers should line up with what
the Father has already revealed (especially in his word - The Bible).
- We should ask the Father to meet our current needs.
- We should ask the Father to forgive any sin or failure that we are aware
- We must forgive others.
If you're a beginner at prayer, the easiest way to start following this pattern
is to find a more experienced person to help you. Ask your life group leader
to help you find someone to mentor you in this area.
We want each of our members to be effective in personal prayer.
- Set a regular time and place for your daily prayer time.
- Start with a small but sustainable prayer time (5 - 15 minutes).
You will find that your prayer time will expand as you are faithful in daily
- Take a Bible, a notebook, and a pen with you during your prayer time.
The Bible will help you to base your prayer requests on God's Word, and the
will help you keep track of prayer requests and the things that God says
to you during prayer.
- Take your time worshipping the Father as you begin your prayer time.
- Take time to listen to the Father before you make your requests.
- Organize your prayer requests - start with your most personal needs (including
spiritual needs of course) and work your way out to the needs of others:
- Pray for yourself
- Pray for the members of your household
- Pray for your family members
- Pray for your prayer partner(s)
- Pray for the members of your life group
- Pray for the people you serve with and for your church
- Pray for people you work with or go to school with
- Pray for your neighborhood, city, county, state
- Pray for your country and for world needs
Prayer partnerships are an important prayer technique that we use at Life
Church. Within each life group we establish sub-groups of 2 - 3 believers who
pray together at least once a week (either in
person or over the phone). Opening yourself up to pray with someone else can
be a challenge. For this reason we offer you the following guidelines:
- Set up a mutually agreeable time to pray. Do it at your next life group
meeting or do it over the phone, but set a time! Note - if you set
up a time on the phone, pray before you hang up (even if only for 1 - 2 minutes).
- Plan to start off with a small but sustainable prayer time (5 - 15 minutes).
You will find that your prayer time will expand as you are faithful in coming
together to pray.
- Be faithful!
- Start with easy, less personal prayer requests (e.g. the pastors, the growth
of the ministry of Life Church, the growth of the life group, the needs of
other life group members, etc.). It takes time to build the trust necessary to share
more personal prayer requests.
- Spend at least twice as much time praying as you spend talking about your
prayer requests (or anything else). We need to do some talking to share prayer
requests and come to agreement about how to pray, but resist the temptation
to turn prayer time into fellowship time.
Intercessory prayer, or intercession should be a significant part of your
prayer life. It takes place when you come to The Father to make requests on
behalf of others. You may experience times of intercession in the midst of
what would otherwise be an "ordinary" time of prayer:
- You sense a strong urge to focus on a particular prayer need. This urge
may begin suddenly or gradually.
- You may not initially know how to pray for this need, but
you sense the Holy Spirit guiding your prayers (Rom
8:26-27). This guidance
may take the form of prayer in your native language, or in a supernaturally
imparted language that you have not learned (i.e. praying in "tongues" -
- You sense that you are fighting against unseen opposition to "get your
request through" (e.g. Dan
- You continue to intercede until the urge to pray for the need leaves.
What To Pray
We need to remember that we serve a big God who is able to do immeasurably
more than all we ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). Don't limit your self to praying
for problem situations to stop being problems. Pray your problem situations
- Don't merely pray for unsaved family and friends to accept Jesus - pray
for them to become pillars in God's Kingdom.
- When you pray for brothers or sisters who struggle with issues in their
lives don't merely pray for the issues to go away - pray for them to come
to a level of maturity that will enable them to carry the burdens of others.
- In general, don't just pray for people to grow to the place where you won't
have to spend time supporting them. Instead pray for those same people to
grow to the place where they will spend their own time supporting others.
Here are some helpful ways to pray for important areas:
Pray for Yourself
- Wisdom and revelation; to know God better; to know the hope to which
God has called you; to know his power at work in you - Eph 1:17-23
- Strength through his Spirit in your inner being; for power to grasp
the vastness of the love of Christ; to know Christ's love; to be filled with
the fullness of God - Eph 3:16-19
- Knowledge of God's will; for spiritual wisdom and understanding; to
live a life worthy of the Lord; to please him, bear fruit, and know him better;
for endurance and patience - Col 1:9-12
- Effectiveness in making disciples - Mat 28:18-20
- Faithfulness in your covenant relationships
- Protection from the enemy
Pray for Others
- Salvation - 1Tim 2:1-4; 2Pet 3:9
- for all of the items above that you pray for for yourself
Pray for Churches and Ministries
- for pastors and ministry leaders as individuals
- for clear revelation from God
- for agreement among leaders
- for protection from the enemy
- for effectiveness in evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship
Pray for Neighborhoods
- for peace and safety for your neighbors - 1Tim 2:1-4
- for your effectiveness in expanding God's Kingdom in your neighborhood
- for God to send more laborers to reach your neighborhood
- for neighborhood issues (e.g. drug houses, local gangs, local prostitution,
- for public safety officials (e.g. police, fire-fighters, emergency medical
technicians) - that they will operate with integrity and effectiveness
- for key social services (e.g. health centers, hospitals, schools, community
Pray for Cities, States, Countries
Leaders by name:
- executive leaders (mayors, governors, presidents, etc.)
- legislative leaders (city councilors, selectment, state representatives,
state senators, members of congress)
For all of these leaders we should pray as follows:
- for their salvation
- for them to be surrounded by godly advisors
- for their health and wellbeing
- for their integrity
- for them to promote policies that enhance the wellbeing of the poor and
- for them to uphold justice
For the churches and ministries within the city, state, or country for
which you are praying (pray for specific churches and ministries).
For God the raise up men and women of God to do the work of his Kingdom
within the city, state, or country for which you are praying.
Pray for the World
Foreign missions work.
Specific countries that God lays on your heart.
Global organizations that affect the lives of many.
- United Nations
- World Bank
- International Monetary Fund
Remember to pray for specific needs of specific targets. Allow the Father
to give you a burden for a specific global need.
Now that you've read our prayer guidelines why not take a few minutes to
put them into practice by praying right now? While you're at it, don't forget
to pray for our ministry here at Life Church!
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