The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, and he did. Obviously, if they needed to learn, so do we. So, I’m sharing a few thoughts on how to structure your prayer time for more effective praying.

Here are my simple first-step suggestions to enroll you in Prayer 101:

First, follow the model Jesus gave us for prayer. You’ll find it in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. Briefly, The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that prayer should contain:

  • Praise: “Our Father, Which art in heaven, hallowed be your name”
  • Pledge: “Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as in heaven.”
  • Petition: “Give us this day our daily bread”
  • Penitence: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
  • Pleading: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Let’s look at each of those briefly.

Praise is essential to an effective prayer life. Every prayer session should begin with praise, as Jesus taught us to do. A large portion of your prayer time needs to be devoted to praise, because this is how you redirect your thoughts to God and get them off yourself. Believe me, that is a most important step in having a meaningful time of prayer.

Praise God for who he is, reciting his attributes and characteristics. Praise him for what he has done, recalling his many benefits to you. Praise the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let your mind and heart dwell on the nature of God until your mind is filled up with God.

Then you are prepared to pledge yourself to the God of creation and commit your life to his control. I find it very helpful to pray back Scripture verses which I’ve written in my prayer journal—verses of dedication and commitment. For example, Romans 12:1 and 2 can be prayed as a dedication of your body as a living sacrifice. It is your pledge to God that you are giving him control for the day ahead.

During this pledge time, you are asking that the will of God be done in your life and giving God permission to write the agenda for your life and your day. It is a pledge between you and God