A. DEVOTIONAL PRAYER– A DAILY HABIT
All church leaders understand and believe in the importance of prayer, and most could say they pray in some form almost daily. But one particular practice of prayer can become too easily neglected: that is our daily devotional prayer.
It is far too easy to allow busyness and other things to crowd out our daily quiet times alone with the Lord. That does not mean we stop praying. We might lead prayer in our church meetings, in small groups, or for individuals who come to us for spiritual help. We may even intercede for people around the world. We can teach on prayer, and even write articles about prayer.
However, it is too easy to neglect a most important aspect of prayer – being alone in fellowship with the Lord. Other things – even good things – can crowd out our time for daily, private prayer.
Daily private prayer – along with daily study of God’s Word – provides time for receiving direction, correction and comfort from God. It is our opportunity to hear from God directly about the things that are meaningful to us personally.
Let us look at some important lessons that will refresh us in our daily, devotional prayer life.
- How Long Should I Pray?
Many people wonder how much time they should spend in morning prayer. It is best to not set a specific time limit. Otherwise, prayer can become a task or heavy burden rather than an opportunity to share in a loving relationship with your heavenly Father.
You probably talk with your spouse every day. But do you make a rigid plan to spend exactly 30 minutes each day talking to your spouse? Probably not. Some days, there are important matters to discuss, and it may take several hours of conversation to come to an agreement or a plan of action. Other days, there may not be as much to talk about.
Daily devotional time with God is similar. It is our opportunity to talk with Him about whatever needs to be talked about, for however long it might take that day. Sometimes we will do most of the talking; at other times we may do a lot more listening! But either way, we are in fellowship and communion with the Lord, talking to Him and hearing from Him.
a. Make The Time For Prayer. If we are going to make more time available for prayer, it means we must spend less time doing something else. Therefore, we must decide what can be removed so that prayer can take its place.
Everyone most likely has something they could cut back on in the evening to allow an earlier bedtime. For instance, we might listen to the evening news or a weather report before going to bed. If we gave that up, we could go to bed a bit earlier at night and then arise earlier in the morning for a time of prayer and devotion to the Lord.
2. Prayer: Fellowship With The Lord
Daily devotional time with the Lord is meant to be personal. It is a time to come before the Lord in an open-hearted, honest way – to come humbly to Him in worship each day.
It is our opportunity to enjoy a one-to-one relationship with God our Father. We can experience the loving, searching, transforming work of God through the Holy Spirit that will impact our entire being – body, soul and spirit.
- Prayer Prepares Us For The Day
We must press back the busyness and demands of this life in order to make time with the Lord a priority each day. We know of course that to miss a time of daily devotion with the Lord does not mean the rest of the day is doomed to failure. Our trust is in the One to Whom we pray, not just in our prayers. God is faithful to help us any time we turn to Him.
It is true, however, that some problems might be avoided and others more easily overcome when we have been fully prepared through our morning prayers.
While our times of personal devotion are a blessing to us, they also bring great pleasure to the Lord. He really wants to be with us, and cares for us very much.
What an honor and privilege is ours to greet the Lord each day, and to know that He desires to be involved in our lives. May we daily honor His presence by our conversations with Him in prayer.
B. A PATTERN FOR DAILY PRAYER
There are four important parts to daily devotions.
The following outline gives a brief description of each. They will be explained in more detail throughout the remainder of this article.
This outline is not intended as a formula to rigidly follow or a course to complete in a measured time. It is a guideline for you to follow at your own pace or adapt to your situation. The important thing is to begin your daily devotional journey with God; the following will help you do that.
THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE –OFFERING UP YOURSELF
- Daily purpose in praise.
- Offer up your body to the Lord.
- Sing a new song.
- Worship in the Spirit.
CONFESSION AND CLEANSING –OFFERING UP YOUR HEART
- Invite a search.
- Don’t be deceived.
- Set a guard.
- Keep the goal in view.
ORDER AND OBEDIENCE –OFFERING UP YOUR DAY
- Surrender your day to God.
- Show childlike need.
- Ask for specific guidance.
- Obey instructions.
FAMILY AND CHURCH –OFFERING UP THOSE NEAR AND DEAR
- Name immediate family daily.
- Open to your larger family.
- Remember the Father’s family.
- Include “the single.”
The remainder of this article will follow the above outline in our study together.