Using the prayer headings
The prayer headings on this website help you focus your prayers. First, speak to God whose ‘praise’ is our priority. Second, pray about personal matters, in prayers of ‘petition’. Lastly, we suggest prayers of ‘intercession’ for other people.
Under each heading you will find either a suggestion for prayer or a written prayer. Use these resources as you wish; you can simply take the suggestions and use them as they are, or be more creative. You can let the suggestions dwell on your mind as you pray, you can pray according to the general themes, or let the headings be a prompt to your prayers.
All the prayers are written with the hope that you will find your own way to use them, combining your natural approach to prayer with the need for a degree of devotional discipline.
Prayer and the need for discipline
All devotional prayer is highly individual, but without some discipline, we are prone to talk to God about no more than what is on our minds. So it is good to have a discipline which ensures we cover all angles. This will remind us of not just what to talk to God about, but to examine ourselves, to listen, to wait on Him and much more.
Patterns of prayer
There are many possible patterns of prayer and many books on the subject, but what is right for you or for me? There is no simple answer, but as a starting point I suggest using either a traditional scriptural prayer or one of several well tried and tested ‘patterns’ of prayer.
PSALMS Christians have used the psalms as a guide to worship for centuries. There is nearly always a psalm to fit our mood or needs but to spot which one requires some skill; some are well known, like Psalm 23 which is often used as as an inspirational guide and prayer.
THE LORD’S PRAYER The best known scriptural prayer is ‘the Lord’s Prayer’. Jesus gave this to the disciples as a guide, so it focuses on God, His authority, His provision for our needs, and the importance of repentance and forgiveness in the life of the believer. It is unsurpassed as a private devotional guide, but it does not cover some aspects of prayer such as intercession, and is best used within a wider pattern of prayer.
CHURCH LITURGIES Even though they are not fashionable, most churches have official books of prayers which contain classic prayers said by Christians for centuries, such as the ‘General Thanksgiving’ (‘Almighty God … we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all Your goodness to us …’). Communion prayers, special prayers for the Christian seasons and other special prayers can be helpfully used in private devotions.
J O Y The general pattern of prayer used in this website is loosely based on the well known prayer acrostic JOY, standing for ‘J’ = Jesus (or God), ‘O’ = others, and ‘Y’ = yourself. However, you will notice that they are presented in a different order; ‘to God’, ‘for self’, ‘for others’. I suggest this pattern because it places God first before we consider other .
If it helps, replace all the prayer suggestions with your own patterns or discipline, though I hope that you will do this only after considering the significance of these simple and basis patterns. Some of these, and some of the wisdom you can find in good books on prayer, have been used to aid the devotions of Christian people for thousands of years. They have much to teach us.