Let me make a preliminary statement! I share these thoughts not at all as one who regards himself as an expert in prayer but rather as one who struggles to pray and knows his need of help.
Over the last couple of weeks as I’ve gone about my daily devotions, I’ve returned to a practice I followed a number of years ago. I was feeling the need to ‘freshen up’ my own devotions and decided that it might be helpful to set myself the discipline of an order of daily prayer.
Years ago I used the outline suggested in a little book entitled “A guide to prayer”. which followed a pattern along these lines
- A short written prayer
- A Psalm
- Daily Scripture Readings
- Christian Devotional Reading
- Prayers of Intercession
- Reflection (maybe written)
- Short written closing prayer.
Returning to the book after fifteen years or so; On the one hand I recognise the value of embracing a more disciplined approach to ordering my time with God, but on the other hand I chafe a little against the order as it stands.
In particular, the daily readings follow a lectionary and this week I would have been in Deuteronomy on Monday; John on Tuesday; 1 Corinthians on Wednesday…. And I feel the need to be constantly reading God’s Word through again and again.
The second item in my order (following on from an opening prayer) is a Psalm. To be more specific, its the same Psalm every day for a week. It seems to me that there is something of our present culture that always wants to move on to the next thing quickly; that doesn’t want to stop and stare; and maybe for that very reason the discipline of stopping; reading; re-reading; mediating and praying over the same text every day for a week can be so very helpful.
Next week I will continue to use the outline, but I will make it my own. Here’s what I’m planning:
- Opening prayer. “Father God thank you that I can confidently draw near to you because of the blood of Jesus. Help me this day to draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, in the cleansing that you provide.”
- Hymn. My heart can be so cold first think in the morning, and good words of praise lift my attention from how I feel to who he is and what he has done. Next week Ill use the words of “Great is the gospel.” which are is about half way down this page.
- Psalm 1.
- Bible reading. I read with a book mark which has boxes to tick off. This helps when the bookmark gets removed from the Bible! I’ll be reading Proverbs most of next week.
- Devotional reading. I’ll read through Thomas Goodwin’s “The heart of Christ in heaven towards sinners on Earth.” The language maybe a little antiquated but the Puritans do me so much good.
- Prayers of Intercession.
- Closing prayer. Father as I go through this day, so be at work in me that I would think and will and act for your glory.
As a preacher I’ve often tried to explain that our confidence in the practice of Christian difficulties is not so much what we do, but rather that God is gracious. I read; meditate and pray, but all that those things do really is position me in the spotlight of God’s grace. My confidence cannot be my plan; it must be his grace!