Couple of Sunday mornings ago, I talked about the importance of Prayer and since yesterday we were at the Prayer for the Nations event, here is the notes for the sunday school lesson for everyone to see.
I first became aware of my need for a better way to pray on a trip to Nashville, TN for a Passion Conference. During this conference, they had a prayer room where they wanted there to be continuous prayer for the conference for every hour of the day. Therefore, my mentor, Bert Solomon, and I selected an hour that would stretch us and picked to pray for a 15-minute time slot at 3AM.
When we knelt to pray, I prayed for everything I could think of and looked up at the clock and realized it only took around 2-minutes. I then suffered through 13 minutes of fighting sleep, aimless prayers, and staring at the clock. I felt defeated in my prayer life. To pray for 15minutes felt like an eternity, and my mind wandered much of that time. “I guess it is me,” I concluded. “I am just a second-rate Christian.” Because my mentor appeared to not had any problem with praying.
However, I realized if I was indwelled by the Holy Spirit and generally seeking to live in obedience to God’s Word, then the problem likely is not me, but my method. Of course, there is no method that will enliven prayer for those who do not have the Holy Spirit. But those who are indwelled by the Spirit have received from God “the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).
Those who have been given the Holy Spirit have by that Spirit a new Fatherward orientation, a new Heavenward orientation. In other words, those indwelled by the Holy Spirit really want to pray. And yet, while I believed in prayer and wanted to pray and I could not imagine ever totally abandoning prayer, when I did pray it was frustrating. My heart was often cold, my mind could not stay focused on prayer, and frankly, prayer was often boring. Thus I concluded, “I’m a second-rate Christian.”
I also became aware of my need not to say that same prayer over-and-over again because I was starting to get on my on nerves. I would say the same prayer at night before I went to bed, before eating, and before athletic events. It made my prayers boring. In addition, there was a deacon at my old church in Knoxville, that would say the same exact prayer right before taking up of the offering every Sunday. I was determined not to pray like him.
Therefore, during the lesson that I gave to the youth a couple Sundays ago, we first talked about how to pray through the book of Psalms. Since there is 150 Psalms, you can read 5 Psalms a day for a month and you will have completed the book of Psalms. How you pray through the book of Psalms is take the day of month as your first Psalm. Then keep adding 30 to that number until you get 5 Psalms. So on the 15thof the month, your first Psalm is Psalm 15. To Psalm 15, add 30 to get the next one, Psalm 45. These would be followed by Psalm 75, then 105, and 135. (On the 31st, use Psalm 119.) Take 30 seconds to scan these five Psalms, then choose one to pray through. One advantage of this method is that gives you direction when it is time to pray and defeats aimlessness.
You can also do this with Proverbs. Since there is 31 Proverbs, you can pray through a Proverb a day.
The Advantages of Praying Through Scripture.
1.) Keeps you from saying the same old things about the same old things. Which in returns keeps you from becoming bored with prayer.
2.) Gives you direction when it’s time to pray and defeats aimlessness. Which allows you to stay focused and pray longer without being distracted.
3.) You will find yourself praying about things that you had forgot about, but scripture reminded you of.
4.) You will find yourself praying about most of “the same old things,” but in brand new ways.
So How Do You Pray Through Scripture?
Let the words of Scripture become the words of your prayers. For example, if you pray through Psalm 23, read, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and thank Him for being your shepherd. Ask Him to shepherd your family that day, to guide, protect, and provide for them. Pray that He will make your family members His sheep; that they will look to Him as their shepherd. Ask Him to shepherd you through the decision you must make about your future. Pray for Him to bless the undershepherd at your church, shepherding him as he shepherds the church, etc. When nothing else comes to mind, go to the next line—“I shall not want”—and continue to pray. Simply go through the passage, line-by-line, praying what you find in the text or what it brings to mind. If nothing comes to mind, or if you do not understand the verse, go to the next. You might choose to linger long on one verse. Conversely, there may be only a handful of matters that prompt prayer as you go through many verses. Nothing says you have to pray over every verse.
Continue in this way until (1) you run out of time, or (2) you run out of Psalm.
We also discussed an acronym that I use almost every day for those that I love, and when I am asked to pray in front of groups. This acronym keeps me focused and on track so that I do not stumble my way through prayer. It based off of Four Psalms. The acronym is IOUS.
I– incline (Psalm 119:36) Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
O– open (Psalm 119:18) Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
U– unite (Psalm 86:11) Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
S– satisfy (Psalm 90:14) Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
I hope that you find these techniques as helpful as I have in my prayer life.