When our schedule is full, and big changes are happening, the only thing we should never stop doing is praying; other things can wait, prayer can't. We cannot live a Christian life if we don't live it in prayer; if we don't come to Him every day in prayer and in the Word.
Prayer goes hand in hand with the Word of God, and when we pray God's Word we know we are praying according to His will and that our prayers are God-centered. One way to do this is to pray as we read the Scriptures; pray as we memorize it, pray as we meditate on a certain passage. Another way that has been a blessing to me is use Matthew Henry's Method for Prayer (which is full of prayers based solely on the Scriptures). I have used this book; consistently for more than a year and I have shared many prayers, and quotes with you in this place. Today, however, I want to take the time to explain you how I use it; so if you get the book (or happen to win it here!), you'll find it easier to start including it some days in your prayer time.
A Method of Prayer has 9 chapters that can be used as companions, aids in our daily prayer :
1. Adoration (with suitable Acknowledgments, Professions, and Preparatory Requests.
2. Confession of Sin
3. Petition and Supplication
6. Addresses to God upon Particular Occasions (We use this chapter differently)
7. Of the Conclusion of our Prayers.
Notice how these follow the pattern of the Lord's Prayer, and are God-centered.
So first, I recommend you to get some post-it© banners (like these or these); one for each section. Each section is subdivided, this means that you will be praying a subdivision from each chapter every time you use this guide in your prayer time.
This is an example:
1. (From Ch 1.1) We must solemnly address ourselves to that infinitely great and glorious Being with whom we have to do, as those who are possessed with a full belief of his presence and a holy awe and reverence of his Majesty, which we may do in such expressions as these
2. (From Ch. 2.1) We must acknowledge the great reason we have to lie very low before God and to be ashamed of ourselves when we come into his presence and to be afraid of his wrath, having made ourselves both odious to his holiness and obnoxious to his justice.
3. (From Ch. 3:1) We must earnestly pray for the pardon and forgiveness of all our sins.
4. (From Ch. 4.1) We must stir up ourselves to praise God with the consideration both of the reason and of the encouragement we have to praise him.
5. (From Ch. 5.1) We must pray for the whole world of mankind, the lost world; and thus, we must honor everyone, and, according to our capacity, do good to everyone.
6. (From Ch. 7.1) We may then sum up our requests in some comprehensive petitions, as the conclusion of the whole matter.
As I read each prayer (I did not post the complete prayers here for the sake of space), I add my own personal prayer to it; I only use these prayers as a guide; as I don't want to repeat just for the sake of repeating them. (If you click on the links above, you will go to the online version of the book; which I would not recommend you to use in private prayer. It could be very distracting. I am sure you'd agree.)
When I come to the Intercession section, is the time I pray for the special requests of my family and friends. (It is very useful to keep those prayer needs written down because we want to be faithful in praying for those who ask us to pray for them).
In chapter 6 we find different prayers for particular occasions such as :
- In our morning and evening prayers.
- Prayers for those days when we are going on a journey.
- Prayers in the evening before the Lord's Day; on the morning of the Lord's Day.
- Prayer in our preparation for the Lord's Supper; in the celebration of the Lord's Supper and after celebrating the Lords Supper.
- Prayers upon the occasion of the cares, and burdens, and afflictions of particular persons.
- And many more.
We can include one of these as part of our prayer time, when we intercede for others.
As I finish reading one section; I move my post-it banner to the next subdivision in each particular chapter; so the next day I won't lose my place.
Chapter 8 presents a Paraphrase on the Lord's Prayer, in Scripture Expressions. It is very long, so I read sometimes one section from it instead of the rest.
Chapter 9 includes some short forms of prayer; for example a prayer to be used by children, a morning prayer for the family, an evening prayer for the family, family prayers for the Lord's Day, a prayer proper to be put by parents for their children, and different addresses before and after a meal.
The book also includes three discourses by Matthew Henry, that I have found very profitable and encouraging. I have read them several times. In the first one he shows how to begin every day with God; the second is on how to spend the day with God; and the third is on how to close the day with God.
Few "warnings" (if I should call them so) about this book:
1. It should NEVER substitute the Word of God.
2. You should NEVER hear yourself saying: "Without it I just can't pray"
Now, maybe you are asking, Why a prayer method? From experience I can mention some benefits:
1. It has helped me to pray in so many different ways that I never used to; it has widen and enriched my prayer life; and it has helped me learn to pray God-centered prayers, instead of me-centered.
2. It has helped me to spend more time in prayer. Now I can't pray only few minutes and then just start running through the day. It has helped me to discipline myself to stay in God's presence and meditate on His Word for longer periods.
3. I highly recommend this prayer companion, because it only uses Bible verses put together in sentences, and paragraphs. And it points you to each verse that the author is quoting. This helps me to search the Scriptures too. (I love the Valley of Vision, for example, but even though those are wonderful prayers, when I pray over them -and I do sometimes- I know I am not reciting the Word of God; but other saints' words.)
4. I have also learned to pray consistently over the Scriptures as I read them.
5. Don't laugh about this.... but it has helped me not to fall asleep in prayer when I am super tired! Yes, I bring my companion, and my journal and I write short prayer or Scripture passages; this is a great help indeed for tired and sleepy mommies.
The most natural way to finish this post, is by hosting a giveaway of this book; don't you think so? So, if you are interested please leave a comment saying that you want to enter it. The providential winner will be announced Tuesday, September 13, 2011. (You don't have to be a follower of this blog to enter this giveaway, but it would be nice if you could pass the voice around!) UPDATE: This giveaway is closed, I am so sorry.
Under His sun and by His Grace,