How to Spend One Hour in Prayer
by Dale Reeves
The night before Jesus was going to take the sins of the whole world upon himself on the cross, he took several of his disciples with him to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed for God’s will to be done. The Bible says that God’s angels provided support for the Son of God as he agonized over what was to take place the next day at the hands of the Roman soldiers. His closest companions, Peter, James, and John, were also with him. He asked them to keep watch while he prayed. He returned to them and found them asleep, and we have these words recorded in Matthew 26:40, “He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?’” (NLT).
That’s exactly what we are asking members of our church to do November 29 to December 2. We will be praying in our prayer room at the church building and online for three days, asking individuals to sign up for a one-hour time slot. If you’d like to participate in this powerful experience with us, you can sign up here.
How should you spend one hour in prayer? What should you talk about with God during that time? There are a number of one-hour prayer guides available as a resource, but I would like to suggest the following outline based on the Lord’s model prayer (see Matthew 6:9-15) Jesus taught his disciples to pray.
Praise Him (10 minutes) “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.”
Begin your time in prayer by giving God praise and adoration. Praise him for who he is. Tell him the traits about him you appreciate the most, such as his unconditional love, his grace and mercy, his patience with you, his forgiveness, his holiness and perfection. Thank him for giving you access to come to his throne boldly as his child. Address him as your “Abba, Father.” You might want to pray to him by naming some of the names he is known by in the Old Testament such as:
El Shaddai: The All Sufficient One
El Elyon: The God Most High
El Olam: The Everlasting God
Adonai: Lord, Master
Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Will Provide
Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord Who Heals
Jehovah-Nissi: The Lord My Banner
Jehovah-Mekoddishkem: The Lord Who Makes You Holy
Jehovah-Shalom: The Lord Is Peace
Jehovah-Rohi: The Lord Is My Shepherd
Jehovah-Tsidkenu: The Lord Our Righteousness
Jehovah-Shammah: The Lord Is There
Tell him which of his names you resonate with the most today. Thank him for the way in which he has met you where you are, and how he has shown himself in your life.
Submit to Him (10 minutes) “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
The apostle Paul directs us in Ephesians 6:18 to “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (NLT).
Spend some time just being still before God. Get in a posture of kneeling and open your palms face up, asking God to reveal his perfect will to you. Tell him you are ready to receive whatever he wants to speak to you. Ask him to help you be alert to hear what he is saying to you. What is it about God’s kingdom that desperately needs to be brought to the earth today? Ask God what role he would have you play in bringing his will and his kingdom here to earth. You may want to pray about specific things happening in our world, in our nation, and in our local community. Pray for unity. Pray for our church and our church leaders by name. Pray for believers in Christ who are experiencing persecution all around the world.
Petition Him (10 minutes) “Give us today the food we need.”
We serve a good, good Father who wants to give us good things. He wants to bring blessings into our lives. Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 that the Father already knows our needs before we ask him, but he wants us to approach him in faith, and believe that he will respond because he knows what is best for us. Even though he may answer “No,” or “Not yet” to a specific request, it is never wrong to ask (just as a child does with his parents)—according to his will in our lives. What specific items do you need to bring to your Father today, either for yourself, your family, or others in your sphere of influence? They might include things like . . .
Decisions that need to be made
Intervention in specific situations
Many prayer warriors have found it extremely helpful to keep a notebook (or make notes on a smartphone) of specific prayer requests, noting what day these requests were first brought to God, what the answer was, and the date God answered that specific prayer. As you look back on these notes later, you will have some tangible proof of God’s faithfulness in your life.
Repent Before Him (10 minutes) “Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. . . . If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
The apostle John promises us, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9, NLT).
King David assures us, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12, NLT).
In his sermon on the mount, Jesus challenged us to forgive others just as God has forgiven us. As humans, we struggle with “forgiving and forgetting,” but God doesn’t. When he looks at us, he sees his children who have been forgiven because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. What sins do you need to confess before God today? What things have you either committed against his will or what good things have you omitted doing that you should be doing? Allow yourself permission to remove your mask and get vulnerable before God. He already knows what you are going to confess and waits with expectant arms to show you his extravagant mercy and grace.
Pray for Protection (10 minutes) “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
The apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:3, 4, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (NIV).
What footholds or strongholds have you allowed Satan to have in your life? Ask God to search your heart and REVEAL those things in your life that are not pleasing to him. Are there specific sins that reveal chinks in your armor? Are there specific Scripture passages God would have you commit to memory so that you can combat those tendencies? Confess your desire to God to be an overcomer, and thank him that he tells you the battle belongs to him. Thank him that you are not alone in your spiritual struggles, and ask him to show you his presence when you feel the weakest. Praise him for what he has done in your life and what he will continue to do.
Say Amen to Him (10 minutes) “For yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Well-known pastor and prayer warrior, E. M. Bounds, said:
“The prayer closet is the battlefield of the church; its citadel; the scene of heroic and unearthly conflicts.”
What else do you need to bring to God today in your “prayer closet”? End your hour of prayer with the Father by confessing to him that you desire for his kingdom and his will to be done in your life. Tell him that apart from him you can do nothing, but that with him you are capable of doing anything through his strength (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13). Ask God to show you what part you are to play in answering the prayers you have brought to him today. Ask him to help you RESPOND to what he has shown you during this hour.
When you say to God, “Amen,” you are saying, “So be it. I agree with you, Lord, with whatever you want to do in my life! May you be glorified today!”
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20, 21, NIV).