2. Plan Your Prayer (Seven Steps for Better Prayer)

by | Jun 25, 2018

2. Plan Your Prayer (Seven Steps for Better Prayer)

by | Jun 25, 2018

If you don’t have a plan for your prayer, you just won’t pray.

So if you want to get better at prayer, you need to plan out when you’ll pray. There’s evidence in Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3 that this is exactly what Paul’s doing. He says in verse 10 that he’s praying “night and day.” Earlier in this letter he says he’s praying “continually.”

So what does that mean? Continually praying night and day? Is he so busy praying that he doesn’t even have time to sleep? No time to eat? Or is he always just floating around in some kind of transcendental state? Always one with God and one with the universe? Always praying even if he’s not moving his lips or his mind?

Probably not. It means that Paul schedules regular times of prayer, in the morning, and during the day, and at night before he goes to bed. He has appointment times for prayer, and he doesn’t miss his appointments!

That’s how it works if you want to spend time with God. That’s how it works if you want to spend time with anyone. What happens when you see someone at Whole Foods, and you say, “Hey, we gotta grab coffee sometime! We gotta do lunch!” You know it’s never going to happen if you leave it at that. You’ll forget about it. You’re never going to do lunch unless you both take out your phones right then, and put down a specific time on the calendar for that lunch.

It’s the same with prayer. If you don’t make an appointment for it, it’s not going to happen. You might need to actually put a 30-minute appointment on your calendar every day. And if it’s too hard for you to pray for 30 minutes, schedule 3 times a day when you’ll pray for 10 minutes. First thing in the morning, lunchtime, and bedtime.

You need to plan when you’ll pray, and then you gotta plan what you’ll pray about. Paul’s been thinking about this for a long time. The first 8 verses of this chapter are a wind-up for the actual prayer. So first thing, he’s got some things that he wants to praise God for. He says in verse 9, “What thanksgiving can we return to God for you for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God.” He’s been thinking about that for a while. In chapter 1 he says, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers.”

So Paul’s planned out what he wants to thank God for. That’s a huge part of prayer. One of the best disciplines you can have is to keep track of the things you’ve seen God doing so you can thank him and praise him. When our family has dinner, we try to share the good things that happened that day so we can thank God for it all. Every meeting I lead, I try to start it with people sharing evidences of God’s grace they’ve seen, so we can start out the meeting praising God together for his goodness.

Paul’s planned what he wants to thank God for, and he’s planned out some things to ask for. Verse 10: “We pray that we may see you face to face. Verse 11: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all. Verse 13: “May he establish your hearts blameless.” You can tell that he’s been thinking about this! He’s got some requests ready when he prays.

If you just go in with these vague, general requests, you’ll stop praying. “God, I pray that you’ll bless this person, and God, I just pray that you’ll do a mighty work in that person’s life.” Bleechhh! You can’t pray that for long. You’ve gotta get specific and plan your prayers.

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