Stamina in Prayer

 

A friend  mentioned that he’d desperately wanted to cultivate a life of prayer, but he found that after praying for a short while he seemed to have finished, to have lost steam, to be unable to continue to pray on the same subject.

This page will give you some tips on how to develop stamina for longer prayer times, and for a closer relationship with God. Right at the outset I must stress that prayer is not a “technique” (an important admonition in an age of techniques). So if you find with any of these patterns that are meant to be helpful thst the pattern is making your prayer artificial to you, try the first pattern, or pray in tongues, or pray silently. It helps if you keep a prayer notebook, in which you list your prayer topics, and pray every day over the topics in the list, taking more or less time over each as the Spirit of God leads you..

List of Prayer Patterns

Freestyle Pattern
Pattern by Theme or Topic
Pattern based on Our Relationship to Christ
Prayer of praise
Prayer in tongues
The Lord’s Prayer Pattern
     God’s Names Pattern (from “Hallowed be Thy Name)

Spiralling-Outward Pattern

Silent prayer

 

Free Style Pattern

This pattern of prayer is like taking a stroll, without a specific destination in mind. It’s praying to God and letting our hearts and minds roam freely over a variety of prayer subjects.

This style has an advantage and a disadvantage.

The advantage is that we pray our hearts’ desires. If we have only a short period of time in which to pray, there may not be time for much else.

The disadvantage is that it is open to distraction and may not last long.

Since it is not pre-planned, we may soon run out of things to pray for. Also, we run the risk of praying self-orientedprayers: “give me this” “give me that”, etc.

To counteract our tendency to pray selfish prayers, we should start with the following first steps:

  • remind ourselves that we are praying to our Creator Who is also the Creator of the whole vast universe, both material and spiritual.
  • ask the help of the Holy Spirit to examine our hearts and consciences to remember any unconfessed and unrepented sins
  • confess them to the Lord, resolving to turn away from them.
  • having discovered sins and confessed them, receive the forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.
  • spend some time in thanksgiving for past blessings,
  • praise God in words and song. Psalm 95:2. (Praise fans our faith to believe that God will listen to our prayers and answer them appropriately.)

Now we come to the place where we pray for our needs and desires. Ask the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26).

This is free-style prayer. 

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Theme Pattern

If free style prayer is like taking a stroll, praying by theme is like walking towards a definite destination.

Qe should start with the same initial steps as in free-style prayer.

Because this pattern is one of prayer toward a definite destination, we should be careful to put greed out of our hearts, otherwise our prayer will be ineffective.

To get greed out of the way, we can lay the goal, theme or subject of the prayer on the altar as a sacrifice to God. We should also ask God whether a positive answer would bring glory to Him  or not.

If it is not going to bring glory  to God, we should not pray for it.

If it is going to bring glory to God, we should pray for it with faith that God will answer.

Here are some guidelines on praying for specific themes:

1. We must have clear goals

When prayers are vague, we don’t know whether and when they have been answered. For instance, take a prayer like, “Dear God, please bless me!”

How will we know whether and when this prayer has been answered? It is virtually impossible to testify that a particular event that happens or situation that develops is the answer to this particular prayer. If we are going to pray by themes, we should express our prayer in such a way that we can tell without a doubt when the prayer has been answered. When the answer has come, we can testify about it and give God the glory for it.

Jesus gave us two parables on the subject of theme prayers to illustrate the importance of being persistent when we pray for specific goals.

One of these parables is in Luke 11:5-8. Jesus tells about the man who goes to his neighbour at midnight, to ask for three loaves of bread for a travelling friend who had just arrived and he had nothing to set before him.

The neighbour says, in effect, “Go away! Can’t you see how late it is? The door’s locked, and my family is in bed. I can’t get up! Go away!”

The man goes on knocking at the door, until the neighbour finally relents and gives the man what he has been asking for.

It is after telling us this story that Jesus makes the wonderful prayer promises of Luke 11:9-13 (also found in Matthew 7:7-11).

Later, in Luke 18:1-7, Jesus tells us the parable of the unjust judge who agrees to grant to the widow the just verdict she asks for … simply because she badgers him to give it.

In both the parables, the central character had a definite topic or theme, and prayed for a specific goal. This is the main characteristic of praying by theme or topic.

2. We should pray repeatedly.

When we are praying for a specific goal, we will usually find that we cannot pray until the prayer is answered either because continual prayer is tiring us, or because the answer in God’s timing is not immediate. In such cases, the practical thing to do is  to stop praying after a while, and resume the prayer at another time. And so on.

One way to pray repeatedly is to repeat the prayer at several times during each day. For instance, as soon as we awake, then around lunchtime, then around dinnertime, and finally before bed.

Of course, the theme prayer doesn’t end at bedtime. If the answer may be long in coming. So we may need to repeat the prayer day after day, week after week, month after month, until the answer comes.

And that implies that …

3. We should pray patiently.

When we pray with a specific goal for a while, and the answer does not come “reasonably quickly”, we tend to get discouraged. That’s because it seems as if God is not hearing us. We feel that the goal will never be reached. Our dreams are shattered, sometimes after an initial “promising answer”. We see no hope, no indication of a future answer. We cannot understand God’s reasons for not answering or for letting the dream get shattered.

This is precisely the point where we should take courage from the parables and refuse to give up. Instead, we should continue to pray for that specific goal, repeatedly, and patiently.

We must be like the farmer who plants his seed in the ground, goes on watering it, and waits patiently for the seed to put out roots, grow into a sprout, and then into a tree and then bring forth fruit. Suddenly, after a dry period, God brings our goal back into the realm of faith, and gives us assurance that it will be achieved or received.

But is there a way to get out of the dry period quicker? There is. We can get out of dryness quicker by praying based on different aspects of  our relationship with God and Jesus.

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Pattern based on Our Relationship to Christ

In this pattern, we affirm what and who we are in Christ. For instance, we are justified (declared “not guilty” of sin) (Romans 3:24). So no condemnation awaits us and we are set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). We have been raised up to sit with Christ in glory (Ephesians 2:6). So we can come with freedom and confidence into God’s presence (Ephesians 3:12).

Asserting what and who we are in Christ, we not only develop our faith, but develop a humility and total commitment to Christ. We stop being frivolous in our prayers, and we are not easily moved by worldly temptations. Praying based on our relationship with Christ gives us a deep sense of our firm status with God

Let’s look at some facets of our relationship with Christ.

1. We affirm our relationship to God as His Creation and His Redeemed

We may use words like these …

Dear God, You created the universe. You made the heavens and the earth. You made all the things on the earth: plants, birds, fish, animals. You made man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him the breath of life, and he became a living being. The Creator owns what He has created. I am created by You. So, my life is not mine but Yours.

When Adam and Eve and subsequently all of mankind sinned against You, even then You loved us, and promised a Savior. You then fulfilled Your promise, by sending Your only Son to die on the Cross and purchase us back from the kingdom of darkness. The Purchaser owns what He has purchased. So, once again, my life is not mine but Yours.

God, I am your possession by Creation and by Redemption. So I have no rights over myself, my life, my present or my future. You have the absolute sovereign right over me.

Because I am Yours, You are will protect my interests. So, with confidence, I ask you for such and such, as I am interested to have it.

2. We affirm our relationship to Christ as the sheep of His flock

In this, we affirm that Christ is the Great Shepherd and the Good Shepherd and that we are the sheep of His pasture.

From Psalm 23, we realize that God is our Shepherd. Jesus said that He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14). The book of Hebrews calls Him the Great Shepherd of the sheep (Hebrews 13:20). Peter calls Him the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). We, on the other hand, are the sheep of His pasture and the sheep of His hand (Psa 95:7 and 100:3).

The important point here is that the sheep belongs to the Shepherd, Who is the Owner of His sheep. The right and responsibility to lead, feed, raise and protect the sheep belongs to the Shepherd. The duty and responsibility of the sheep is to follow the Shepherd, to depend on Him for total care and protection. Even if the sheep strays, the Good Shepherd will come after the sheep to retrieve him.

In making this affirmation, we would do well to affirm the verses of Psalm 23.

Verse 1: The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. God takes care of me, so I will not lack anything.

Verse 2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. There He supplies all my needs, and gives me rest and peace of mind.

Verse 3: He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. So God delivers me from sin, restores to me the joy of salvation, guides me into righteous living and into the fulfillment of His will for my life.

Verse 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. So, if I should encounter a dark period, I will not worry. Even if it looks as if God isn’t there, I know that God is very much present, guiding, protecting, working in my life.

Verse 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. So God protects me against my enemies, both human enemies, natural enemies (such as microbes, cancers, etc.) human enemies and spiritual enemies (such as Satan and his armies). If any enemy attacks, God turns the attack into extra blessings, as He did with Job (Job 42:10-17).

Verse 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. So goodness and mercy will pursue me, run after me (the literal meaning of the Hebrew verb) right through my life, and the Good Shepherd will guide me to the eternal mansions that He has prepared for me (John 14:2).

Pray Because God is my Shepherd, because Jesus is my Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for this lost sheep, I make bold to tell Him my request. 

Then pray along the lines of any of the verses depending on the nature of the request: health (defeating the microbes), unjust law suit (victory over the enemy), guidance in a specific decision (being led along the right path), anointing for a specific ministry need.

Whatever the request, ask that your joy may be full (my cup runneth over).

3. We confess our relationship to Christ as the clay to the Potter.

Paul says in Romans 9:21 that God is the Divine Potter and we are the clay which He turns into vessels of honor or dishonor. What God desires for His people is to turn them into vessels of use in the house of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:19).

God makes beautiful vessels, plain vessels, big and small ones, as He chooses. We should therefore confess before God our powerlessness, and accept God’s decision as to the kind of vessel He wants us to be. We can ask God to help us be an honest and sincere vessel, worthy of God’s plan, worthy of the purpose for which He is making it. We should not try to be more than the vessel God wants me to be, nor less than what He desires me to be. We should not compare ourselves with other people, but ask God to fill our vessel with His Holy Spirit. We should commit and ask God’s help to be faithful to our calling, and to bring glory to His name. Our attitude should be “by the grace of God I am what I am” and the grace He gives us should not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:10a).

This sort of prayer is specially relevant when you want to discover your destiny, and be what God wants you to be.

4. We confess our relationship to Christ as the branches to the Vine.

Jesus said that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Just as the branches are in the Vine, so we should be centered in Jesus, love Him, totally trust Him. The Vine receives water and nourishment through Its roots, and transfers them to the branches. The branches don’t supply life to the Vine, but the Vine to the branches. All that the branches have to do is to receive the water and nourishment that the Vine provides, and to bear fruit. Jesus did the real work: He led a sinless life, died for our sins on the Cross, was buried, rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, gave us salvation, reconciled us to God, took us into God’s family, poured out His Holy Spirit on us, gave us healing, delivered us from curses, bestowed on us the blessings of Abraham, gave us eternal life, and guaranteed that we will live forever in the Kingdom of God! All that we have to do is just to receive His grace and bear fruit for Him.

Let’s affirm this before God, bow before Him in humility and thank and praise and trust Him for all that He has done, is doing and will do for us. When we show our trust to God, God will work in our lives, and we will receive all the power and strength we need to blossom and bear fruit for Him.

We can pray for specific things along these lines, if we tell God that we will do whatever is necessary on our side to get to our goal, which we have prayed for guidance on, but we don’t want to be struggling for it, preferring instead to receive it from Him, as the branches receive from the Vine.

5. We confess our relationship to Christ as the bride to the Bridegroom.

Jesus is the Bridegroom (Matthew 9:15; 25:1-10). We are the Bride (Revelation 21:2,9,17). The responsibility of the Bridegroom is to love His Bride, protect her, provide all her needs, and our responsibility is that of the Bride: to honor the Bridegroom, obey Him, and expect Him to supply all our needs and to protect us from all danger, and at the end to enter His heavenly kingdom, as His Bride. So, let us trust Him throughout our lives, asking for whatever we need or want, as a bride would ask her grrom, and looking forward to that glorious day when He will rapture us to His home in heaven.

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Prayer of Praise Pattern

This pattern of prayer is intended to express our joy and thanks to God, without asking God for something.

The book of Psalms states that the praises of His people is the throne that God sits on (Psalm 22:3). So when we praise God, He draws nearer to us.

This is specially important when we are unable to pray to God because of dryness, or because we are in some sort of pain, or working under a heavy burden. If we spend time praising God, He draws near, the pain and burden disappear, and our spirits are freed.

An example of the power of praise is the story of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat’s victory in 2 Chronicles 20. He won the battle against his enemies by sending a choir singing God’s praises ahead of the army!

Another example is the story of Paul and Silas, who were cast into the dungeon in the city of Philippi. As they were singing God’s praises in the dungeon, there was a sudden earthquake, the foundations of the prison were shaken, the doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose (Acts 16:19-26)!

How to praise the Lord

We must praise God for Who He is and for what He does.

God made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. So we must praise God as the Creator. We also praise Him for His omniscience, His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His greatness and His glory. Also for His holiness, righteousness, goodness and love. Ask for what you need or want, in this atmosphere of praise.

We must praise God for His grace towards us — for giving us God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

We praise God for being so ready to forgive our sins upon mere confession of them. We praise God for His Spirit Who helps us lead holy lives. We praise God for redeeming us from the curses that our sins drew down on us. We praise God for His earthly blessings. Above all, we praise God for delivering us from death and hell and giving us eternal life.

We also praise God for the prosperity and health He has given us, and for specific answers to prayers when we cried out to Him in trouble and danger. Ask for needs and desires, in this atmsphere of praise

We must praise God for being willing to answer our prayers.

Our thanks and praises are the proof that we have faith in God. We should be thanking and praising God, not only when asking God for something, but also when we’re not. Our constant thanks and praise will create for us an atmosphere of heaven on earth! The psalmist said: “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23). We can ask for what we need or desire, in this atmosphere of thanks and praise.

It will help us praise God continually if we pray the psalms. David’s psalms are full of praise. He set us Christians a wonderful example.

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Prayer in Tongues

When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He grants us a gift of speaking in other tongues. It is a personal prayer language. There are two types of tongues.

The first is the sort that occurred at Pentecost as described in Acts 2. The 120 disciples spoke in different earthly languages that were understood by the people from different countries who heard the sudden loud sound of the rushing wind and came to check it out. In my experience in India, I have heard a person who did not know Spanish publicly speak Spanish to a vast throng at a charismatic conference organized by Christ for the Nations. Someone else who did not know Spanish gave the interpretation. A third person who had been living in Spain for some years then came up to the stage and identified the language as Spanish, saying that the interpretation was absolutely correct. This was a shock and surprise and very faith-building to the tongue speaker, the interpreter and the whole congregation, as the tongue-speaker and the interpreter came to the mike and vouched that they did not know Spanish, but were only speaking and interpreting tongues by the gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14.

The second type is the sort mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. These chapters speak of tongues that no one understands (1 Corinthians 14:2). In the story above, if there hadn’t been a person who understood Spanish, the tongue would have been the kind that no one (in the group) understands. But, given the scripture in 1 Corinthians 14:2, it is also possible that no one in the world understands it. It may be a language that used to be spoken on the earth but is now lost. Latin and Sanskrit are called dead languages but there are some speakers (mostly scholars) of these tongues. But there are languages that are not spoken anywhere by anyone. The Bible also mentions tongues of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1). There are born-again Christian sceptics who claim that a tongue which is not understandable is not a tongue at all. However, it appears from the Scripture that when we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we speak tongues, sometimes in a known language and sometimes in a language not known to anybody on earth!

The natural question at this point is: What’s the use of a tongue that no one understands?

The Bible tells us that there are many uses indeed!

Uttering Mysteries to God

1 Corinthians 14:2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

When friends are intimate with each other, they often share secrets with each other, secrets which no one else knows. When our spirit gets intimate with God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, God and our spirit share intimate secrets. No one may know what we are talking about. Perhaps even we don’t at the time. But if we ask God for the interpretation, He will give it. (I write from experience.) So, as we pray in tongues, speaking mysteries to God in our spirits, we experience that closeness with God as with a Friend, that closeness which is a mark of true intimacy. This is specially useful to us when, for any of a number of possible reasons, we feel that God is distant from us. (Of course, if sin the reason for feeling distant, we must identify the sin, confess and repent, resolving to turn away from it. Even then a feeling-barrier may persist, and praying in tongues can dispel it and restore the intimacy.)

1 Corinthians 14:4a He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself;

The Greek word translated as edifies literally means “builds a house”. By praying in tongues, we are building a spiritual house, a house of faith.

Building ourselves up is crucial if we are going to build anyone else up. We can’t give what we don’t have! If we want to guide another believer into deep faith, we must have deeper faith ourselves. We get this deeper faith by praying much in tongues. In doing this, we follow the example of Paul, who said, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Corinthians 14:18).

So the question whether people understand the prayer in tongues is irrelevant. We are not speaking for people’s ears. Therefore, it’s best to pray in tongues either when we are alone, or during those times in church when everyone is baptized in the Spirit and prays in tongues together and no one needs to understand what the next person is praying.

Praying in tongues is praying in the spiritual language that man cannot understand. It is the Holy Spirit Who prays, using our voice and spirit, transcending our thoughts. God understands the thoughts that the Holy Spirit expresses to Him. “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27)

1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. It follows that we can and should ask for interpretation as well as speaking in tongues, not only so that we can understand what the Holy Spirit has said, but also so that we can edify the church, and not just ourselves. (Sometimes the interpretation will be in the form of praise to God, or intercession for situations or for people. At other times, it may be information or instruction to act upon. I have received such instruction in tongues and interpretation which has been exactly practical in more than one situation in our lives.)

1 Corinthians 14:22a Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not:

We see an example of this in Acts 2, where speaking in tongues became such a great sign for the unbelievers that 3000 were saved in one day.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Thus, speaking in tongues becomes a prayer initiated by God the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes there is a pressing need that we are not aware of. The Holy Spirit then gives us tongues so that we can intercede for that need. After such an episode of praying in tongues, we often see the extraordinary situation that we have been delivered from miraculously. I believe that these situations were the subject matter of the intercession in tongues. Sometimes, God does not let us know the precise subject of the intercession because it would frighten us. We come to know only after the danger has been averted. Sometimes God keeps the subject matter secret from our minds because it involves someone else’s sin or weakness. We are interceding for that person, but never come to know what the intercession is about, until the other person reveals it to us. (It was like this, in uninterpreted tongues, that my wife prayed for a friend and his wife.. We only came to know what it was about when the wife  revealed it to us. That incident then became a sign to the husband and to my wife and me that God was at work, and, as a result, that husband made the passage successfully from being an unbeliever, to becoming a believer.)

Incidentally, because our minds and our emotions are not directly involved to construct the prayer, we do not get tired even after we pray in tongues for a very long time. A passage in Isaiah tells us that God wanted to speak rest to the people of Israel, but they wouldn’t hear. So He promised to speak rest to His people in another tongue (Isaiah 28:11-12).

Isaiah 28:11  For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12  To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.

 

 

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The Lord’s Prayer Pattern

It is interesting that when Jesus’ disciples saw the amazing results that He was getting, through His preaching, and through His miracles, they did not ask Him to teach them to preach, or to heal the sick, or to raise the dead, or to cast out demons, or to turn water into wine, or to multiply bread and fish, or to walk upon the water. They asked Him instead to teach them to pray.

That can only be explained by His disciples’ realization that He got the results that He did because of His closeness to God in prayer.

Jesus was so busy during the day with preaching, and demonstration of the power and compassion of God, that He had very little time to pray in the day time. So he sought time for prayer in the early morning (Mark 1:35), or late at night (Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12). In fact, on the occasions mentioned by Matthew and Luke in the verses just cited, He spent the whole night in prayer.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He taught them a pattern of prayer that has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer. Actually, it couldn’t have been the prayer He used to say, because it asks for forgiveness of sins (Matthew 6:12 and Luke 11:14), and we know that Jesus lived a sinless life (John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, it follows that this prayer was intended for the disciples. It should properly be called The Disciples’ Prayer.

We also know that He didn’t intend for His disciples to memorize the prayer and say it again and again (as in the rosary), because Jesus specifically taught against rote repetition.

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Therefore it follows that Jesus was teaching them a pattern of prayer. So it could also be called the Lord’s Prayer Pattern.

Here are the main points of the pattern:

We begin by approaching God as our Father.

Not just “my” Father, but “our” Father. This reminds us that all of us to whom He gave power (authority, right) to call themselves children of God (John 1:12), are brothers and sisters because they are children of the same Father. There is, implicit in the phrasing, also an encouragement that we pray with other believers, something which is dear to Jesus’ heart.

Matthew 18:19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Next, we hallow the Name of God.

Many people say the words “hallowed by Thy Name” without understanding their meaning. It is important that we understand what is the Name of God, and what it means to us.

God’s Name is Yahveh (Exodus 3:14). The King James Version writes it down as Jehovah. This is out of respect for God’s Name. The Hebrew word for Lord is Adonai. By interspersing the vowels of Adonai into the spaces between the consonants of Yahveh, we get Yahovah (the last “i” of Adonai being regarded as a consonant in Hebrew). In earlier centuries, Yahovah used to be spelled as Jehovah, and the name as come down to this day in the KJV. Jehovah means “I am Who I am.” It has been called God’s Covenant Name, because He attaches various attributes to it which specify various aspects of His Covenant with believers.

For example, in Genesis 22:14, He is called Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord our Provider.

In Exodus 15:26, He is called Jehovah-Ropheca, The Lord our Healer.

In Exodus 17:15, He is called Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord our Banner (of Victory).

In Judges 6:24, He is called Jehovah-Shalom, The Lord our Peace.

In Psalm 23:1, He is called Jehovah-Rohe, The Lord our Shepherd

In Jeremiah 23:6, He is called Jehovah-Tsidkeenu, The Lord our Righteousness.

In Ezekiel 48:35, He is called Jehovah-Shammah, The Lord Who is There (hence, Who is with or within us).

When we say “hallowed by Thy Name”, we should ponder deeply on what the Name of God means to us, and we should reverence His Name.

Next, we pray that God’s Kingdom come.

Jesus started His ministry by preaching, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17). What exactly Jesus meant is best understood in the context of the parables of the Kingdom, and the the prophetic prophecie of the  Millennial Kingdom. The fact is that for the sake of the Kingdom, Jesus willingly let Himself be crucified, dead, and buried. He then rose from the dead, and opened the way for the Kingdom of God on earth.

In a sense, His Kingdom has not yet come, for it will have come only in the MIllennim when His commands will be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven.

Meanwhile, God already reigns as King in the hearts of the believers. For them, the blood of Jesus has brought forgiveness, cleansing, reconciliation, the power and work of the Holy Spirit, healing, blessing and deliverance from demons and curses. Jesus has abolished the power of fear that death and hell used to have over God’s people. Instead, He has given them anticipation of eternal life in the eternal kingdom.

We should pray here that signs and wonders of the Kingdom of God be manifested in the body of believers, as proof to unbelievers that Jesus is God and Savior.

We should also pray that more and more people be saved and added to the Kingdom.

Finally, we should pray that the days of waiting be soon accomplished, and that the Kingdom of Heaven be manifested on earth in the form of the Millennial Kingdom with the Return of the Lord Jesus.

Next, we pray that God’s Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Therefore His Will is already fulfilled in heaven. By whom is His Will not fulfilled? By the devil, and his angels, and by those human beings who are under their influence. These latter don’t trust God, and reject His will. Thus they hinder it from being fulfilled on earth. That’s why we should pray that all people on earth may come to know God’s Will, and be disposed to obey Him and give glory to Him. We should also pray that demons be cast out, so people’s darkened minds can be filled with the light of Jesus, so that in turn the Kingdom of God will come to them and eventually to the world.

Next, we pray that God give us this day our daily bread.

We ask God to feed us in our spirits with His Word every day. This is a good time to read God’s Word and meditate on it.

We also need physical food and other basic necessities like clothing, housing and transportation. God wants to supply these and wants us to pray for them. To get our basic necessities, we need other things: money, a job to get money, education to get a job, and food, clothing, housing and transportation to get education. Which brings us full circle. God is able to take care of our entire circle of needs. But He wants us to know that it is He Who is providing. We lose sight of Who is providing if we don’t pray. That is why it is God’s Will that we should pray for our daily needs and all that is required to fulfil them. And, having asked, we should receive.

Next, we pray that God forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

It is against God’s Will if we ask God to forgive us while we take vengeance on others, or even if we just refuse to forgive them. Of course, it isn’t easy to forgive those who sin against us. But we should remind ourselves that we are constantly sinning against God and others, and therefore are constantly in need of forgiveness, and so our those who offend us. Therefore, as we expect to be forgiven, it is right for us to forgive them also, without asking them to apologize first. Jesus on the Cross set us the example. He forgave His enemies even though they had not asked for forgiveness.

Next, we pray that God preserve us from temptation.

All human beings, regardless of whether they are believers or not, are subject to constant temptations by the devil. His usual method of tempting us is through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. The devil goes around the world, not only like a snake, but like a roaring lion, trying to tempt and to terrorize us into doing his will (1 Peter 4:8-9). If the three disciples had prayed at Gethsemane, as Jesus told them to, they would not have run away when the soldiers came with Judas to arrest Jesus, and Peter would not have denied Jesus when a maid recognized him in the courtyard of the high priest.

But deliver us from evil.

The evil is the enemy, Satan. He was disarmed at Calvary, but still continues to accuse us and tries to trap us. If we fall for his accusations or traps, he will try to steal from us, or kill and destroy us. That is why we should regularly ask God to deliver us from evil. This prayer is all the more important in view of the darkening clouds of evil as we approach the end times.

Finally, we praise God for His Kingdom, Power and Glory.

At the end of our prayer time, as at the beginning, we need to remind ourselves of Who God is. We think of His Kingdom, His Power and His Glory, and we thank Him and praise Him.

If we follow this pattern we will be praying specific themes in the order taught and recommended by Jesus.

The Result of using the Lord’s Prayer Pattern

When we pray on the various themes in the order of the Lord’s Prayer Pattern, we will be able to pray before God’s throne for an hour or two, and receive the infilling of the Spirit. And our prayers will reach His throne, and He will hear and answer, because we are praying according to His will

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Spiralling Outward Pattern

In this pattern of prayer, we start with the nearest and spread out further.

We begin with ourselves. We pray for the growth of our own life in Christ, for grace, for blessing, for our needs and problems.

We then pray for our family, starting with our spouse (we have to be closer to our spouse than to anyone else except God). We pray for his or her faith life, for his or her health. And then we pray for our children.

Then we spiral out further. We pray for our parents and even grandparents (if alive). We pray for their needs. Then we pray for our brothers and sisters and their needs.

We then pray for our relatives that they too may receive salvation and have God’s provision for their daily needs.

We then pray for our close friends and business partners.

We then pray for our neighbors.

We then spiral further outward and pray for our city, its leaders, its government and municipal officers, the police, the fire brigade, etc., and finally for all the residents of the city.

We then spiral still further out and pray for the nation, starting with the president, the prime minister, the cabinet, the members of parliament, the political leaders, the business leaders, and the social, political and economic conditions. Finally we pray that every citizen of the country should have the opportunity to hear the gospel of the grace of God.

It is time now to pray for neighbouring countries. And then for other countries in our own and other continents. We pray for their salvation, for peace on earth, and the imminent return of Jesus.

As is evident, this spiralling pattern of prayer is going to take a long time. It is important to set up a schedule, like we would do for a seminar, as to what level in the spiral will be prayed for at what time. If it’s a prayer meeting, the one leading the meeting will have to lead the prayer according to the schedule, and guide the congregation to pray in a coordinated way (for example for five minutes of prayer at each level of the spiral).

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Silent Prayer Pattern

It is often helpful to pray aloud. This is called “vocal prayer”. It helps us avoid distraction or drowsiness, and to pray more coherently and clearly.

In the book of Jeremiah, God says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3) The book of Hebrews speaks about Jesus “Who in the days of his flesh … offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears” (Hebrews 5:7) It is possible to do this when absolutely alone or in a believers’ church meeting. 

But sometimes it is just not practical to pray out aloud. Loud prayer could disturb others in the family, perhaps children who may be studying, perhaps the wife who may be speaking on the telephone, perhaps even the family in the next apartment. And of course, we can’t pray aloud when travelling by bus, train or air.

There are also times of day when it is inconsiderate to pray out aloud. For instance, if we rise early to pray, it would wake up the family and even neighbours if we were to start praying out aloud.

These are the places and times when we need to pray in a soft whisper … or in the silence of our hearts. The psalmist said: in Psalm 139:2, “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.”

The main advantage of this form of soft or silent prayer is that we can enjoy deep fellowship and communion with our Lord. We can experience God’s love, His grace, His power.

What about the content of such prayer? In terms of content, we could follow the free style pattern, or the theme prayer pattern,or any of the other patterns of prayer discussed above.

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