This blog compiles some notes and observations from one average guy's journey of life, faith and thought, along with some harvests from my reading (both on-line and in print). Learning to follow Jesus is a journey; come join me on the never-ending adventure!
We all find it easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to prayer. Here are ten resources which you may find helpful in freshening up your prayer life in the year ahead.
1. The Lord’s Prayer
It would be remiss to do a series of resources to help you in your prayer life without including the prayer that Jesus himself taught us. It’s the starting point for all Christian prayer, and as well as being great to use as-given it also works well as a structure for all of your prayers. I’ve written more about using it this way previously.
2. Operation World
If you’ve not come across it, Operation World is a terrific book which gets updated periodically, with incredibly detailed information about every country in the world and how to pray for their needs. The current edition is showing its age in certain areas of the world (e.g. Syria) but it’s still a great way to expand your horizons beyond the narrow concerns of your own personal needs.
Don Whitney’s recent book “Praying the Bible” explores how you can use the words of Scripture, and especially the Psalms, to inject freshness into your daily prayers.
Don gives a reading plan of five Psalms every day which will get you through the entire Psalter every month – or there’s a reduced version available through PrayerMate which gives you one Psalm every day to get through them all every five months.
4. Take Words With You
Tim Kerr’s manual for intercession “Take Words With You” is an incredible treasure trove of Biblical promises and prayers organised into categories – as well as a method for using this to pray specifically into various situations. I highly recommend getting yourself a copy and giving it a try.
I’ve worked with Tim to incorporate Take Words With You into PrayerMate, and you can access various daily feeds such as verses to help you Praise God or Confess Sin, as well as the “TWWY Prayer Builder” that you can use to pull in Bible prayers and promises related to a specific theme.
5. John Piper’s “Concentric Circles”
John Piper has talked in various places about how he prays in “concentric circles” – starting with yourself and your own relationship with God, then moving outwards to close family and friends, then to the wider church and community, and then to the wider world. It’s of course not the only way to pray but you might find it helpful if you are struggling to give your prayer times any kind of structure, or get stuck on just one of the “circles”.
From the beginning the PrayerMate app was built with this kind of prayer structure in mind – you could maintain a “list” for each circle, and since it always gets you to pray through your lists in order it will naturally work from the inside out.
6. A Call to Spiritual Reformation
The book that first got me going in a serious habit of prayer was Don Carson’s classic “A Call to Spiritual Reformation“. It’s a great book that’s well worth a read – both for his practical tips on how he uses prayer lists, but mostly to see what the prayers of Paul in the Bible have to teach us about prayer.
For those who want it, you can download all of the passages mentioned in the book into PrayerMate by finding the “Praying with Paul” section of the “Biblical Prayers” gallery.
7. Pray for Seven
Pray for Seven is a great initiative as part of the Diocese of London’s “Capital Vision” project, encouraging everyone to commit to praying regularly for seven unbelieving friends for an opportunity to share your faith with them. It’s built on the simple premise that when we pray, God can do amazing things.
Do you ever find yourself wanting to pray for your friends who don’t yet know Jesus, and ending up praying exactly the same thing over and over and wondering where to go next? Tim Challies has written a great list of suggestions for how to pray for unbelievers here.
You can download these into PrayerMate by finding the “Evangelism and Youth Work” gallery.
9. “5 Things to Pray” books
This year The Good Book Company published two great little books to help you pray: “5 Things to Pray for Your Church” and “5 Things to Pray for the People You Love”. Each page gives you a different aspect of the subject matter to pray for and give simple suggestions. Fantastic!
You can purchase these books through PrayerMate through the following links: “http://praynow4.org/church5″>Your Church” or “The People You Love“.
10. The Valley of Vision
One of my favourite books on prayer is the Valley of Vision. Published by the Banner of Truth, it’s a collection of prayers inspired by the prayers of the Puritans and organised by various topics. They’re wonderful prayers for when you’re stuck in a rut – a favourite of mine has always been the prayer for the “Lord’s Day Morning”, a great one to pray as you head to church.
You can’t yet get the Valley of Vision through PrayerMate but you could always sign this petition to say you’d like to be able to!