Effective Prayer Pattern
Develop an effective prayer pattern. Decide firstly on
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
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
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
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.'