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Effective Prayer Pattern

Develop a prayer pattern. Decide firstly on how long your prayer time is going to be. Those who are experienced in prayer claim that they need at least half an hour to achieve effectiveness, but if this amount of time presents problems to you then begin with fifteen minutes.

One can hardly get anywhere on less. Plan a prayer pattern to cover the three following aspects. You will need to look at God. You will need to look at yourself. You will need to look at others.

Divide your time into three sections so that you cover all these aspects. You can, of course, vary the timings on each aspect as God directs, but no sustained prayer pattern which omits these three areas will be in harmony with the best spiritual insights which have come out of the lives of great prayer warriors of the past.

Looking at God means adoring Him, praising Him and thanking Him for the multiplicity of His blessings toward you. Spend some time reflecting on the fact that you, a soiled sinner, are made welcome in the presence of a holy God, and that He encourages you not only to come but to linger in His presence.

Let your mind run over the many reasons you have to be thankful. It's surprising how they mount up as you begin to list them one by one - home, friends, family, food, health, the church, and so on.

If you do not enjoy some of the blessings I have listed, then think of the things you do enjoy. Ponder them until your heart overflows with gratitude and thanksgiving rises, because it must. A man once told me that he had difficulty in following the first part of the prayer pattern I had presented to him, because he could 'think of nothing to be thankful for'.

His problem was not so much that there wasn't anything to be grateful for, but that he failed to employ his mind in tracking down the blessings of God upon his life. Nothing to be grateful for! God forgive the thought.

No appreciation of the mercy that chastens us in our pride and pleasure! Or the problems that drive us to distraction, yet at the same time, push us humbled, penitent and receptive into the arms of an Omnipotent God. No regard for Christ, God's crucified Son, Savior, Brother, Counselor, Friend! For the Church of God.

For the Love of God, encompassing, overshadowing, under girding! We have only to focus our mind on recounting God's blessings, and endless causes for thanksgiving pass by in review. Looking at yourself means praying about your own spiritual condition.

Many teachers on the art of prayer might disagree with me here and say that prayer for oneself ought to be kept until last. The reason they give for so doing is to guard prayer from selfishness.

'Keep your own needs to the last' they say, 'this will guard your prayer pattern from selfishness'. There is some truth in what they say, of course, but experience has shown me that when people pray for their own spiritual condition first, the purification that begins in them spills over into the prayers they pray.

When they are purified then their prayers are purified. So, at this stage of prayer, let one thought be predominant: How can I become more like Jesus? 'Christ' someone said 'is a perfect mirror: He reflects a perfect likeness of the image which falls upon Him.

' Sometimes, friends and acquaintances will overlook our faults and exaggerate our good points, but Jesus will always give us an honest appraisal of ourselves. So as you look into the mirror of Christ and measure you life alongside His, ask Him to show you any faults, imperfections or sins that need to be confessed and put right.

The best place in all the world to see yourself is in Christ, because when you look at Him you not only see yourself as you really are, but He gives you the strength and the grace to do something about it.

If there is something to be confessed to someone, an apology to be made, or a spiritual deficiency to be corrected, then make a note of it in your notebook. This means it will not be forgotten later.It becomes a prayer pattern.

" Looking at others means praying for others. Keep lists of people you know who are in special need. Some Christians keep an urgent daily list and a weekly list as well. Mention people by name and tell God plainly what you would like Him to do for them - to heal their sickness, save their marriage, help them to find employment, and so on.

This part of the prayer pattern is called intercession. It involves, of course, more than just praying for people. It can be extended to such things as special events, such as church activities, or needs in the community, nation, or the world.

Dr W. E. Sangster, in his book The Secret of Radiant Living presents the art of intercession in a way that, to me, is unequalled. He says, 'First think of God: His greatness, Glory, Purity ... then think of the person for whom you are praying.

Now draw the awareness of God (in His power and readiness to bless) and your awareness of the person you are praying for (in their need and inability) together in the crucible of your loving and believing heart. Hold them together as long as you can.

A full minute or more. Fuse them in the flame of your affection. Small as your love is beside God's, it will stem like the solder of a joint.' Someone might raise the question at this stage: What about petition?

When do I focus on praying for my own personal needs? Well, it can be done in the second section of the prayer pattern when looking at yourself, or you can, if you wish, leave your own personal requests right until the last moments or minutes of your prayer time.

For my own part I have found that the more I have grown in my spiritual life, my prayer pattern has also changed. I now spend less time asking God to my personal needs. In the early part of my Christian life petition took up almost all of my prayer time.

Now it occupies only a minor part, sometimes just seconds. And why? Because I have an ever increasing conviction that the more I seek God for Himself and not for the things He can do for me, then He will see to it that I will get all the things I need.

I think this is why Matthew 6.33 is fast becoming a favorite verse of mine. 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.'

After developing a Prayer Pattern, your next step is Praying in Jesus Name.


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