Wednesday, October 28, 2020

An Easy Hour in Prayer


The Big Idea: Break an intended hour of prayer into twelve 5 minute sections. 

Do you start to pray on your own and find a fly in the room is more interesting? If so, you may find a method I learned in college on how to spend an hour in prayer. I used to have a hard time keeping my mind focused for just ten minutes of prayer so I couldn't imagine this could help me. But I wanted to cultivate a prayerful life so I decided to try it. It was revolutionary for me.


My favorite thing to do is to find some quiet spot outdoors. I love someplace with a view if possible. A bench works. I have sat on a rock or with my back to a tree and gotten ants crawling on me! I have also wandered paths around a lake, and sat by a rushing brook. I have gone to a quiet room in the house, or spent time in a church tucked away in a corner by myself.

Sometimes I have done this on a monthly basis; sometimes it has a been a year or more between this retreat time. This can be done with another person or a group. It works best for personal prayer. I usually like to journal with the date, location and what I prayed for or the verses or songs I sang at various points. It is interesting to look back at my notes years later.

I try to take a small blanket to sit on, a water bottle, a watch or something to keep time, my Bible and a notebook and pen. Dress for the season if it is a cool fall day or a very sunny hot summer day. Sometimes I bring a hymn book with me because singing is part of this. I have also brought my ipad in more recent years to look up the words to a song, or sing along with a music video of a worship chorus.


The concept is fleshed out in a book by Dick Eastman, An Hour That Changes the World. He has divided the hour into twelve parts. You spend five minutes on each section. This is relative. You can certainly have those time periods shorter or longer intervals. Here are the twelve categories to work through.

1. Praise and Worship

2. Waiting on the Lord

3. Confession

4. Pray the Word

5. Watching

6. Intercession

7. Petitions

8. Thanksgiving

9. Song

10. Meditation

11. Listening

12. Praise

It is useful to select a focus before you begin. This may relate to what you are going through and need to affirm. If you are feeling insecure you may want to focus on God's Love. If you feel life is out of control you may want to focus on God's majesty or His power. If I have not start prayer time with a topic, the Lord has led me by His Holy Spirit in a certain direction. It always seems to be just what I need at the time. He, my Creator, is the one who knows me better than I will ever know myself.


1. Praise and Worship: It is helpful to focus on an attribute of God or a series of attributes.  It may trigger a song about worship or give praise to Him. Though singing is #9 on this list, this is your prayer time. You are allowed to sing and pray if you want to here! But don't get distracted or spend time looking stuff up. Just talk to God and focus on Him and who He is!

2. Waiting on the Lord: This might be hard for you if you are not used to listening for God. Just wait quietly. You can start off focusing on His character but don't spend your time talking to Him. "Be still and know that I am God," it says in Psalm 46:10. Quiet the anxious or bored thoughts in your mind and focus on Him. Quiet your heart before Him.

3. Confession: When we focus on Him and His character we often become aware of where we come up short. If you are not sure what to confess, pray this verse: "Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts".
Ps. 139:23

4. Pray the Word: Use a passage of the Bible as a tool to pray. The Psalms work wonderfully. Read a line to guide you then pray it in your own words. Let His Word teach you to pray.  

5. Watching: This is similar to waiting on the Lord but it is a searching time. Ask God to bring to mind the sort of things and the specific people you should pray for today. Ask God to guide your time in prayer for yourself and for others. You can also scan world events in your mind to see if there is something that you should pray for, such as world leaders and situations, international Christians in a difficult part of the world right now, etc.

6. Intercession: Now that you have a direction for prayer, start praying for the people and situations the Holy Spirit has put on your heart.  Pray for them. Pray for Christian workers like pastors and International Workers around the world.

7. Petitions: Petitions are different from intercession for others because you pray for your own needs. We are to pray for our basic needs physically (Give us this day our daily bread), emotionally and spiritually. Are you struggling with something in your life such as work, or a family difficulty, or physical illness? Pray for that now. Pour your heart out to God. He cares for you.

8. Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is different from Praise. We praise God for who He is. His attributes. We thank God for what He has done for us. For His blessings. Count your blessings here.  

9. Song: Now is the time to have a worship song or hymn to sing or meditate on. If you don't sing or don't want to sing out loud where you are, you can read the words. But learn to use carefully written songs and hymns to guide a few minutes of your prayer time.

10. Meditation: So you have already waited on God and spent some time watching in prayer on what to pray for. Meditation is focusing on and dwelling on a verse or a truth God has brought to your mind in this prayer session. Read a verse over and over focusing on different aspects of it. Think about what it means for you, for your life situation, for those around you. Think about what it teaches you about God.

11. Listening: Another quiet time before God. Ask the Holy Spirit what He wants to tell you. Little Samuel in the tabernacle thought someone was talking to him. The old priest Eli told him (I Samuel 3:9-10) “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed.

10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

 12. Praise: You are near the end of your prayer time. It is time to close focusing on who God is. Praise Him for what He has done, even in this hour of prayer for you.

I hope this has been helpful to you. It is a helpful tool to me. I always finish refreshed. I pray that this may deepen your prayer life and give you a new, fresh way to spend time with God.

Up Next: Walk n pray

Previous Post: Popcorn Prayers and other on-the-go prayers



What might be valuable about quieting your heart and listening to God or meditating on Him?

Are you likely to try this? Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Popcorn Prayers and other Prayers On-the-Go

The Big Idea: Quick as-you-go prayers count for praying to God.

Short Prayers Count, Too

Teenagers have a hard time praying out loud in front of their peers. It is apparently a skill that needs to be learned. So when I was in youth group back in the 1970s our youth pastor suggested we try something called "Popcorn Prayers." When we bowed our head and closed our eyes, kids could just call out a short sentence prayer. We were given a subject. "Thank you God for…"

There was the confident type who belted out "Thank you God for sunshine."

The quiet girl who, barely audible, said her first verbal prayer, "Thank you God for your love."

Slowly more and more kids added their line. And then the clown of the class might say something like, "Thank you God for ice cream!"

Followed by giggles, of course. And we were done. And the youth pastor then closed our time in some prayer we were all grateful for because HE was doing the praying now.

It was a great way to learn to pray together. It is an easy way to simply learn to talk to God. Some of us have been coached by our parents since we were little, saying a bedtime prayer or a prayer at the dinner table. My family had a sweet little dinner time prayer but for bedtime we were taught from a young age to just talk to God with the thoughts of our heart.

My little sister developed a rhythmic prayer and she would go on making the list longer and longer. It went like this. "Dear God, help mommy to get the baking done and the cooking done, and her washing done, and the cleaning done and the sewing done… and the cooking done and the washing done and the washing done, oh wait… Oh, I'll start again. Dear God, help mommy to get the cooking done and the…"

My mom told me the year she passed away, "I was always grateful for those prayers of Deanna. They were so practical. I know they helped me get everything done!"

Perhaps you have not had an upbringing with practical Christian parents like mine so praying may be associated with  something that sounds like a nursery rhyme or pastors with long flowing beautiful prayers. Maybe you find it intimidating to prayer out loud.

Is praying challenging for you?

Just talk to God in your head as you go. 

There is a very short verse of two words in I Thessalonians 5:17. "Pray continually." It is like breathing. Just talk to God as you go through your day. Pray as you warm something in the microwave. Pray as you drive. Pray as you lay awake in bed. Pray as you exercise. Make it a habit to just talk to God throughout the day. There is no invoice for this like a phone service would charge. It is as easy as praying as you go as if you are talking to a friend.

I have a friend who is the wife of a pastor. When we are driving and she sees an auto accident, she blurts out (eyes open), "Jesus, be with them right now. Help them Lord Jesus." 

As you go.

Ephesians 6:18 (NLV) puts it well.  "You must pray at all times as the Holy Spirit leads you to pray. Pray for the things that are needed."


Up Next: An Easy Hour in Prayer

Previous Post: No light for my way

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

No light for my way


The Big Idea: God's Word brings light to even the darkest of situations in our life.

The funny thing about being a city girl is that there is always light somewhere. Even in the dead of night, street lights spill into the streets. Trying to see star constellations in the sky can be a real challenge in the city.

When I moved to Guinea, West Africa to a rural location I studied the language and culture of the people. I learned that in that culture a full moon night was perfect for an outdoor party, sharing songs and stories. In fact, one night when I was staying a couple days with my former language helper, we climbed to a high point with her husband with guitar in tow and the kids. We sang and laughed under the full moon and told stories. I learned to enjoy a full moon walk with friends. However, I made sure if it was not a full moon, I would have a flashlight with me after dark.

I taught Bible classes and was the Bible Institute nurse. That meant in addition to my dispensary hours, if there was an emergency or a baby to be born, I made a house call. One day I was called to a case. I think it was a baby delivery, but my memory on that is not so clear. What is clear is that I left the student living quarters after the crisis thinking I had enough time to get back home with the campus lights still on. We had campus electricity till 10 pm every day.

About 100 feet from my house the lights went out. Not far. I'll be fine, I told myself. Not. It was totally a moonless night. I could not see my hand 3 inches from my eyes. It was a clear straight way. There were palm trees on each side of the path. But that was a good reason not to keep riding my bike. I stood there a few minutes and hoped to get clearer vision as I got used to the dark. I hoped to see or hear something. Nothing. I ended up abandoning my bike to retrieve the next day and feel my way on my hands and knees for the edges of the path, hoping there were no snakes or army ants along the way. I was never so happy to reach my porch as I was that night!

I had been working on memory verses with ladies who could not read much. We had been working on Psalm 119:26  "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

That night was my most vivid lesson of the reality of Scripture.  You see, the cultural times of King David of the Bible, when he was in the countryside, was probably similar to my life in Guinea. King David probably wrote that verse about the Word as a lamp. At night you need a lantern or you are toast. This metaphor of God's Word being a lamp to our feet and light to our path is a very practical one. It is not so startling when you never have total darkness. But when you are in complete darkness and can barely see where your path goes, you need light. Even a small light. A small light may just show you the next couple feet of the path. But that is OK. You have what you need to move forward.

Life is like that sometimes. Dark. Confusing. I have not always  known what my next step should be. But I have found that leaning on God's Word, reading it, meditating on it, studying it, has given me guidance and hope one step at a time.

I absolutely love all the verses in the Bible about light. There are a couple of them specifically about the Word of God in addition to Psalm 119:26.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 ESV

For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.  Proverbs  6:23

You will shine among them [the wicked] like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Phil 2: 15-16

If you are going through a difficult, dark period, or just concerned about the state of our world, look to God's Word, the Bible to illuminate your way ahead.

Up Next: Popcorn prayers and other prayers on-the-go

Previous Post: Free ebooks on deep questions (by R.C. Sproul)



1. When you were in a dark, difficult season of life, did you find a Bible verse that comforted or helped you? Did you think of going to the Bible for help?

2. Ask a Christian friend what a favorite verse is to help them in hard times. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Free Ebooks on Deep Questions


The Big Idea: Very helpful pastor/author has excellent free series of ebooks on very serious questions for the Christian life. Here's how to get them.

R.C.Sproul Crucial Question Series

There is a series of books that are available in electronic form, that will be free forever. It will help you learn more about who God is, why you should believe, how you should live and how you can share your faith. It is an amazing and valuable series for any Christian or someone interested in the Christian faith.

R.C. Sproul was a conservative, Reformed pastor, author and speaker who passed away in 2017. This valuable series of books are free electronically and you can buy paper versions of them. He started Ligonier Ministries. They have decided to make these books available forever for free. Additionally most are in Spanish. Each book is between 60-90 pages or so. Here is the list of titles taken from their website.

Here is a complete list of the free ebooks in the Crucial Questions series

·         Are People Basically Good? 

·         Are These the Last Days?  (Español)

·         Can I Be Sure I’m Saved?  (Español)

·         Can I Have Joy in My Life?  (Español)

·         Can I Know God’s Will?  (Español)

·         Can I Lose My Salvation?  (Español)

·         Can I Trust the Bible?  (Español)

·         Does God Control Everything?  (Español)

·         Does Prayer Change Things?  (Español)

·         How Can I Be Blessed? 

·          How Can I Develop a Christian Conscience? (Español)

·         How Can I Be Right with God? 

·          How Should I Live in this World? (Español)

·         How Should I Think about Money? 

·          What Can I Do with My Guilt? (Español)

·         What Can We Know about God? 

·         What Do Jesus’ Parables Mean? 

·         What Does It Mean to be Born Again?  (Español)

·         What Is Baptism? (Español)

·         What Is Faith?  (Español)

·         What Is the Great Commission?  (Español)

·         What Is Repentance? (Español)

·         What Is the Church?  (Español)

·         What Is the Lord’s Supper?  (Español)

·         What Is the Relationship between Church and State?  (Español)

·         What Is the Trinity?  (Español)

·         Who Is Jesus?  (Español)

·         Who Is the Holy Spirit?  (Español)

·         Does God Exist? 

·         How Does God’s Law Apply to Me? 

·         What Is Predestination? 

·         Why Should I Join a Church? 


You can go to the R.C. Sproul author page at

There you will find these and more of his books, occasionally offered for free. The way you search on that page (and any author page on Amazon) is using these buttons near the top of the page. Choose Kindle Books and then choose on the drop down menu, Price: Low to High.

R.C. Sproul's book, Abortion: A Rational Look at anEmotional Issue, is also always free.

I have noticed this book from Ligioner Ministry author Keith Mathison is also always free. A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture.

Logos Bible Software also offers the Crucial Question Series electronically for free.

You may be asking yourself what does a Reformed Christian or pastor mean?

This is a well explained short definition from

Generally, Reformed theology holds to the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through Christ, and the necessity of evangelism. It is sometimes called Covenant theology because of its emphases on the covenant God made with Adam and the new covenant which came through Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20).

 Up Next: No light for my way

Previous Post: My favorite Bible Versions