A Pattern for Devoted Prayer
My Devotion to Prayer: As a pastor, I am committed to a life of daily prayer and supplication, asking and pleading with God for the salvation of the lost, for His grace and blessing on the Church and the lives of believers, for the pursuit of reformation, and for the advance of His glory and kingdom in the world. To grow in grace and the Christian life, it is important that believers learn to live a life of prayer. Of course, it is especially the duty and calling of pastors to be devoted to the ministry of the Word and prayer. That is their primary duty and calling, preaching and praying. And that should be their passion and devotion. It is certainly mine. And therefore I consider it a great blessing and privilege as well as a solemn duty to pray for God’s church and kingdom, to pray for my family, to intercede for believers and their families, to pray for Christians throughout the world of every denomination, race, or ethnic group, to pray for the salvation of the lost, as well as to pray for my enemies. I am especially devoted to praying for revival and reformation in the Church, and that Christ would be glorified in the Church, through the preaching of the Gospel, and in the lives and families of Christians. 1 Samuel 12:23-24; Mt.6:8-14; Luke 11:1-13, 18:1-8; John 17; Acts 6:4; Phil.1:9-11; Col.1:9-14; 1 Tim.2:1-7.
*If you would like me to pray for you, send me a line and I would be glad to include you on my list. If you have ever met me before and have had any relationship at all with me, you are likely already on the list and in my thoughts and prayers.
My Method of Prayer: I pray daily, often for hours, in the morning and in the evening, privately in silence, and also at times publicly to be heard and followed. As a pastor leading public worship on the Lord’s Day morning and evening and as a father who leads family worship every day morning and evening, I am constantly leading in prayer. But most of my praying is silent prayer; in the morning, in the evening, in my study, in my easy chair, watching the news, throughout the day. Every event in my life and every news report from family, friends, and others are reasons for my prayer. I live by prayer.
What is prayer? “Prayer is the solemn and religious offering up of devout adoration and desires to God by the Spirit of grace in accordance with His word, with sincere and holy affections, in humble confession of our sin, in order to give to God the glory, praise, and thanksgiving due unto His Name thereby, and to obtain from Him His promised grace and blessing, for the intent of our obedient service and the advancement of His kingdom and glory, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ our Mediator.”
Or more simply put, prayer is glorifying and enjoying God by speaking with Him in the name of Christ, telling him our desires, confessing our sins, and thanking Him for the blessings that He gives us through Jesus Christ. Here is a suggested order in learning how to better prayer to the glory of God that is drawn from the Lord’s Prayer.
1. Invocation: Of God’s name, with a declaration of our desire to worship Him and seek His face and blessing, asking His assistance and acceptance of our persons through Jesus Christ by virtue of His saving work. Prayer begins with calling upon the name of God. 1 Cor.29:10-13; Ps.46:1-2; Mt.6:9; Eph.3:13-20: Rev.1:4-7.
2. Adoration: Of the nature, names, attributes, perfections, and works of God, with acknowledgment of His saving purposes in Jesus Christ, and His special relation to us His covenant people in and through Jesus Christ. Prayer includes adoring God and ascribing to Him the glory and honor that due His name, and reflecting on His divine nature as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; His personal excellencies, and His saving work for us in Jesus Christ. Exo.34:6-7; Psalm 73:25-26; Ps.103; Mt.6:9, 22:37-40; Jn.3:16; Rom.3:21-26; Eph.1:3-14; Rev.5:11-14.
3. Confession: Of our original sin and present corruption, including actual sins and transgressions, our misery and desert of punishment, the unworthiness of His mercy, with the humble representation of our wants and sorrows through the free grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Prayer includes a humble confession and acknowledgment of our sins and transgressions. Ezra 9:5-15; Ps.51, Ps.130; Lamentations; Mt.6:12; Lk.15:21; 1 Jn.1:8-10.
4. Thanksgiving: For the manifold mercies, blessings, favors, and privileges that we have received from God by virtue of His works of creation, providence, and redemption; in and through Jesus Christ that we enjoy; as well as the many promises of His that we are interested in, and have hope and assurance of in the future through Christ, and to our eternal blessing in glory. Prayer includes thanking God for His many blessings. Ps.92:1-2; Ps.103-108; Mt.11:25-26, 26:27; 2 Cor.1:3-7; Eph.1:3-14; Phil.1:3-8; Col.1:3-14; 2 Thess.2:13-14.
5. Supplication: For the advance and triumph of God’s glory and kingdom on earth in the salvation of the lost, the church’s revival and reformation, and believer’s deliverance from the evils of sin and of the world; for temporal and material blessings in the provision and protection of our lives; and for the spiritual blessings in the sanctification of our persons, by the Holy Spirit, to enliven us to a cheerful obedience to Christ and God’s commandments through the performance, continuance, and perseverance thereby in the truth of the Gospel. Prayer includes asking God for His blessings on our lives and for others. Ps.119; Ps.143; Song 1:7; Isa.37:14-20; Mt.6:9-13; John 17; Acts 4:24-30; Phil.1:9-11, 4:6-7; Col.1:9-11.
6. Intercession: For Christ’s Church and people in all of the world; for the Church’s unity, holiness, revival and reformation, and its protection from evil; for the church’s leadership, ministers and church officers, and for the preaching and teaching of the Gospel; for world missions and the evangelization of the world for Christ; for all our several relations, including family, friends, and neighbors, as well as national leaders, ecclesiastical, public, and political; for their salvation, protection, provision, peace, health and blessing from God in the knowledge of Christ; and for the spread and triumph of the Gospel in every nation. Prayer includes interceding for others and praying for God’s blessing on them for Christ’s sake. Exo.32:30-35; Ps.20:1-4; Jn.17; Rom.15:30-33; Eph.3:16-19.
7. Consecration: Of all our praises, professions, promises, desires, and interests in God with a believing anticipation of their fulfillment in Christ for His glory, and our obedient commitment to Him in return with a sincere and holy desire of being further conformed into His image, and so sanctifying the name of God in Jesus Christ and affirming it in our prayers by saying, “Amen.” Prayer includes consecrating our lives to God in the name of Jesus Christ. Ps.23; Ps.72:18-19; Rom.16:25-27; Eph.3:21; Jude 24-25; Rev.22:20-21.
The Lord’s Prayer: Jesus said, “After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.”
*Samuel Lee said, “Let the nature of this sacred duty of prayer, as divided into several parts, be impressed upon your hearts, and dwell in your memories, Let us remember that it contains in it these several parts of worship, namely: invocation, adoration, confession, petition, pleading, profession, or self-resignation, thanksgiving, and blessing.”
*Francis Quarles said, “Call upon God – adore, confess; petition, plead – and then declare; you are the Lord’s; give thanks and bless, and let Amen confirm the prayer.”
Learning about Prayer: In learning about prayer and how to grow in Christ through prayer, it is best to begin by reading and studying the Shorter and Larger Catechisms on the Lord’s Prayer, and the great Puritan works on prayer, as well as the Psalms. Here are a few of my favorites on the subject of prayer. There are many others. I would also say that most modern works on prayer are often superficial, and even in some instances profane and ungodly.
- Matthew Henry – The Secret of Communion with God
- John Owen – Communion with God
- Matthew Henry – A Method of Prayer
- Thomas Watson – The Bible and the Closet
- Thomas Watson – The Lord’s Prayer
- Thomas Brooks – The Secret Key to Heaven
- Jonathan Edwards – A Call to United Extraordinary Prayer
- Arthur Hildersham – Fasting, Prayer and Humiliation for Sin
- Herman Witsius – Sacred Dissertations on the Lord’s Prayer
- John Bunyan – Prayer
- Isaac Watts – A Guide to Prayer
You may also want to listen to any one of the many sermons on the subject of prayer, including my exposition of the Lord’s Prayer.
Some Thoughts on Prayer:
*Thomas Watson said, “Jesus went more willing to the cross to suffer for us while we were sinners than we are willing to go to the throne of grace to pray for our friends. O how Jesus’ sacrificial love for us should direct our life of prayer for others!”
*Thomas Brooks said, “Prayer ought to be the key of the morning, and the lock of the night.”
*John Bunyan said, “Spend good time every day with God in prayer and the reading of His word, and you won’t waste so much of your time on sinning or worrying.”