At the conclusion of every year I always see a handful of posts about reading the Bible in a year. I have no problem with this and want to encourage you to plan and practice reading through the Bible on a consistent basis. However, Scripture intake alone is not the means by which we grow as a Christian. Just as we have a means to hear God from his Word so we also have a means by which to respond to or “answer God” back in prayer. Calvin remarks, “To call upon God is the chief exercise of faith and hope; and it is in this way that we obtain from God every blessing.”1
Just as we have plans for Scripture intake, we need plans for praying. Perhaps you might feel that this turns something that should be spontaneous and relationally organic into something dutiful and forced, but I would actually argue the opposite. We are not natural prayers, quite the opposite in fact, we neglect prayer often. We aren’t predisposed to talking with God and communing with him. We fill our lives with distraction, noise, hurried business, and anything and everything but prayer. If we want to see prayer become something that is a delight and not a mere duty we must work at it. A plan will help us in this.
Timothy Keller’s latest book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God has been an enormous help for me in developing a prayer plan, as well as Eugene Peterson’s book Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer. Keller has included a plan for morning, midday, and evening prayer that I feel will be a helpful and good start in developing a stronger prayer life this next year. Here is a summarized version of his plan:2
- Pray through Psalm 95
- Read two chapters from the Robert Murray M’Cheyne daily reading plan
- Meditate on favorite verses within the daily reading
- Freely pray in the categories of “Adoration” (who God is), and “Supplication” (what our concerns are)
- Pray through Psalm 103
- Paraphrase the Lord’s Prayer
- Free prayer for the challenges of the day and moment
- Read and pray through two Psalms, working through the Psalter.
- Confession and repentance of sins.
- Intercession for family, friends, the local church, your neighbors, and city.
Two other suggestions that come to mind in developing a prayer plan are Joe Thorn’s prayer guide through the Valley of Vision. The other is to buy a journal of some sort (I prefer a Moleskine) and write out your prayers. This can force your mind to stay focused on speaking to God and give you a direction in praying so that you don’t mentally wander off.
In any regard having a plan to pray this next year is just as helpful as having a plan to read through the Bible. I would encourage you to develop or borrow a prayer plan for 2015 and grow in your desire and delight in speaking to our Heavenly Father.
What are some of your plans for how you will pray in 2015?