Prayer - A Few Simple Tips and Strategies
written by Jimmy Newkirk, Associate Pastor (March 11, 2023)
Do you trust God with the whole of your life? If so, why don’t we pray more?
Most of us make plenty of excuses. I’m guilty. Let’s address spiritual excuses in a future blog, but for today, I’d like to share twelve, very practical tips and strategies for prayer. Some of the thoughts shared here are incorporated, with gratitude, from the teachings of Dr. Chuck Lawless. You’ll also find below a heads up on an expansion of our church-wide prayer ministry efforts.
1. Organize your thoughts with a prayer calendar - divide your prayer list up such that you pray for different categories of things each day. While always open to praying as the Lord leads, I’ll share my organization as just one example. My prayer list is divided into 8 lists - one for everyday, and one for each day of the week as follows:
- Everyday - family members by name; mentoring relationships; Pastors; daily praises; repentance of sin; filling with the Holy Spirit; spiritual disciplines; personal application of scriptures; etc.
- Sunday - the Church including deacons; teachers; small groups/Bible studies; various ministries; children; youth; seniors; etc.
- Monday - Missions including missionaries by name; upcoming mission trips; UUPG’s in Mexico, and New Bedford; disaster relief; Bible translators; etc.
- Tuesday - the unsaved by name; those in other religions (by religion name); those in cults (by cult name); etc.
- Wednesday - students; parents; military; various levels of government; public servants; healthcare workers; etc.
- Thursday - personal growth including brokenness; personal growth in areas of discipleship; God’s will in my life; scripture memorization / recall; etc.
- Friday - long term or particular concerns including persons with health needs; orphans and foster kids; the homeless; upcoming events; etc.
- Saturday - extended family and friends by name, being proactive in prayer before troubles arise.
2. Use the ACTS prayer outline during prayer - during each prayer, spend time in Adoration (praise God for who He is), Confession of sin, Thanksgiving (for what God had done), Supplication (making requests of God). A variation of this might be to alternate between doing all four ACTS components one day, and the next day to emphasize just one component, then repeat the cycle with a different component.
3. Develop prayer triggers - let certain circumstances prompt you to pray. For example, when you hear sirens, pray for first responders and those being attended to; when you pass a school, pray for teachers, students, and parents; when washing dishes, pray for your family; when leaving your driveway, pray for those you’ll encounter today.
4. Set a specific time each day, and potentially coordinate with other prayer warriors in your small group or family, to pray for specific items on your mind.
5. Chose a different family in the Church or your neighborhood to pray for, by name, each week.
6. Prayer walk a community or do “drive-by” prayers for neighborhoods, businesses, and churches.
7. Incorporate the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 into your daily prayer.
8. Pray for world events and leaders as you hear or read the news.
9. Pray with someone else each day. It can be just a few minutes and it can be with a different person each day. In addition, make time to pray with your spouse and/or family every day.
10. Utilize short and specific “popcorn” or “arrow” prayers throughout your day, but don’t neglect to spend dedicated time as well. Many find that starting the day in prayer not only produces better quality time in prayer but sets the tone of the day before God.
11. When talking with others, ask how you may best pray for them. Then commit yourself to praying for them according to their request.
12. Utilize prayer prompts provided by the Church. In April, Coats Baptist will launch the 4:31 Prayer Ministry, based on Acts 4:31. Within that ministry, we will provide greater opportunities for you to submit prayer requests, more times of corporate prayer, and prayer prompts to guide your personal and gathered times of prayer. In short, we will be praying for revival and the mission of the Church for God’s glory.
These are just ideas. Use them or tailor them to make them your own. These tips and strategies are simply aids to help with the practical side of prayer. Bottom line: prayer needs to be part of your very lifeblood. This won’t happen overnight. Be patient, but keep striving forward in prayer.
“The God who made the world and everything in it—He is Lord of heaven and earth … in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24, 28). Believing this, we have every reason to desire to devote ourselves to prayer.
Ruth Bell Graham said it well, "We cannot pray and remain the same". May God transform us into the likeness of Christ, through prayer, for His eternal glory.