There are lots of reasons to engage in prayer, but the primary one is to gain closeness and intimacy with God.  In order to do that we need to get really good at asking for his forgiveness. Something happens when we engage in sinful behavior, it puts a barrier between us and God.  Often this is true even when we don’t realize we’ve done anything wrong.  We usually think of sin as wrong, hurtful or even wicked things we’ve done, but sin is really doing anything that God has asked you not to do or not doing something he has asked you to do.  Even if it’s because you forgot or just weren’t thinking, the curse of sinful behavior is separation, the cure is his forgiveness.  

When we seek God’s forgiveness any grip the enemy had on us is broken.  The curses and consequences were defeated with Christ’s death and resurrection.  But this side of eternity, we still feel their effects when we engage in sinful behavior whether intentionally or not.  Receiving forgiveness restores and renews us giving us victory again over the consequences of sin.  

Seeking forgiveness does something else, it combats our pride.  When we seek the Lord’s forgiveness we acknowledge his perfection and our imperfection, his sovereignty and our inability.  This posture of humility is essential for closeness with God.  One of the ideas that is repeated in scripture in both the New and Old Testaments is this: The Lord opposes the proud but gives grace, and favor to the humble. 

Engaging in Forgiveness prayer

I’ve found there are three ways in which I regularly engage in praying for forgiveness. In all three cases my prayer is similar, it goes something like this: 

“Jesus, I thank you for the you forgiveness won for me on the cross.  I now confess to you my every sin, I confess my pride, arrogance and disobedience, (if you have a specific sin confess it here). I renounce every sin and humbly accept your forgiveness and the freedom that comes with it. In Christ, I put off the old man and take on the new.  I now ask that you search my heart and know me and if there is anything else I need to confess, I ask that you reveal it to me now.” (If the Lord brings something to your mind that you need to repent from, ask for forgiveness from that thing and repeat the process until there’s nothing left to seek forgiveness for).

The three times I find myself engaging with this prayer are:

  1. In my daily prayers.  I have a regular time with the Lord each day in which I seek his presence, his wisdom and direction.  It’s a time of reconnecting and receiving power and strength for the day.  I use this prayer template to structure that time.  One of the items I always include is a time of seeking forgiveness. 
  2. Whenever God reminds me of something.  This might be when I’m praying about something else and God brings to mind something I need to repent of.  It might also be out of the blue, at work, on a walk, or talking with a friend when a completely unrelated event will come to mind an I’ll realize I didn’t follow God in that moment.  Whenever this happens, stop and seek his forgiveness as soon as possible.  You don’t want that thing, whatever it is, interfering with you and God.
  3. The third time is likely the hardest. It’s when someone else, a friend, boss, coworker, spouse or even one of my children, will show me that I was wrong.  In these moments, I’ve found it’s best to immediately ask their forgiveness and then pray and ask God’s forgiveness.  Again, you don’t want this junk in the midst of your relationships.  

One more thing

Be honest about your sin and your need for forgiveness. God knows you better than you know yourself, so any attempt at rationalizing or justifying your behaviors won’t bring the restoration you need.  Just own it, embrace forgiveness and let God bring restoration. 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:5-10, ESV (emphasis added)

Today, I want to introduce you to a simple but effective tool to help you engage in prayer and connect with God. It’s an acrostic that you can use to remember the different parts of prayer. While there’s no right or wrong way to pray, there are ways that are more effective. This tool, will help you get the most out of your prayers. What I love about it, is it helps me remember to include things in my prayers that I know are effective no matter when or who I’m praying for.

P – Posture & Praise
R – Receive (listen & connect with God)
A – Act
– Forgiveness
– Warfare
– Intercession
– Protection
– Healing
Y – Yield (surrender)

P – Posture and Prasie

I always begin my prayer times by taking a humble but confident posture with God and by praising him for something. I’ll often tie that praise to the situation I’m praying about. For example, if I’m praying for healing, I will praise God because he knows every cell and atom in our bodies and thank him for being the ultimate physician. It can also be very effective to bring truths from Scripture into the prayer at this point.  For example, if I’m praying for an answer of some kind, I’ll thank him for being a good father, who has good things for his children and praise him because he knows all things and is the keeper of wisdom. I’ll then thank him for the promise that he gives wisdom to those who ask.

R – Receive

My second step in prayer is to receive from God. This might be receiving instruction about how or what to pray, it might be letting him renew me and restore me. If you don’t regularly hear from God, you might want to check out Intro to Listening Prayer and Listening Prayer pt. 2. This time of receiving can also include breathing prayer, Lectio Divina, or just sitting in silence as God does his work in the spiritual realm. When praying for someone, while I’m with them, I find it helpful to practice breathing prayers while quietly or silently asking God how to pray. Then, when I think I know how God wants me to pray, I’ll continue.

A – Act

This is the part of the prayer time when we take action. We could be asking God for forgiveness, protection or healing for ourselves or someone else. Or we might be engaging in spiritual warfare or intersession. Remember, to let God lead you to your action. This is another point at which it is helpful to bring the promises of Scripture into the prayer. For example, “Father, I ask your forgiveness for ______ and I thank you that you have forgiven every sin and made us righteous through Christ.

If you’re not sure what you should be praying about go back to receiving until God shows you. Also, in extended prayer times, I will often cycle through receiving and acting several times. For example, God might ask me to seek forgiveness about something during receiving so I’ll take that action then go back to receiving to get the next instruction. He might then have me pray for healing for someone so I’ll take that action and then go back to receiving. Depending on the situation, you may cycle through these two several times in one prayer session.

Y – Yield

Finally, we close out the prayer time by surrendering to God and accepting whatever he has for us. Remember it’s, “Thy kingdom come” not “my kingdom come.” It is often helpful, especially if you’ve made requests, to pray something like “God, we believe that you are going to do this and we are praising you in advance for it. But no matter what, we trust you, we love you and we worship you.”

Remember, there’s nothing magic about these steps. This is just a simple way to help stay connected with God and let him lead you as you pray. I encourage you to try it and see what happens. Let us know in the comments.

One of the ways we can connect with God during our times of prayer is by praying scripture.  Now, there’s nothing magical about the words themselves. They’re not incantations or spells that have to be said in a certain way with just the right words in order to work.  However there is significant power in the truths laid down in scripture.  These truths are powerful promises to be claimed and mighty weapons to be wielded against the enemy. 

Additionally, in my experience, there is something almost indescribable that happens with our connection with God when praying scripture.  2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that ”All Scripture is breathed out by God…” This means that although the books contained in the Bible were physically written by many different authors, we can think of the ideas and truths as having been directed by God himself. So when we pray scripture we are literally reciting or reading back to him the things he’s written to us.  I don’t know about you, but I would certainly be pleased if someone I loved, cared enough about me to bring the letter I wrote them and recite or read parts of it to me when we met.

Here are two ways you can incorporate praying scripture into your prayer life.  

1. Pray the prayers in scripture.  

A quick Google search for “prayers in scripture” will yield plenty of results to get you started.  Most of the apostle Paul’s letters begin with a prayer so you might consider praying one of those.  For example, in Colossians 1, Paul tells the church of Colosse about the prayers he and his companions pray for them.  Or consider the prayer Paul writes to the Ephesians in 3:14-21. This is a great prayer to pray for yourself, your children, spouse, family or people in your small group.  Another place to look is the Psalms, it’s literally a book of prayer and worship from ancient Israel. You can try searching for something like “a psalm for fear” which yields several results.   One of which is Psalm 18, which was written by David when God delivered him from King Saul who was trying to kill him.  Again, try a Google search for “Bible Psalm about _____” and fill in the blank with what you need a prayer for.

2. Lectio Divina

The other way of praying Scripture that I want to talk about today is through a process known as Lectio Divina which is Latin for sacred reading.  This is a process for hearing from God through a passage of scripture.  Technically, what I’m going to talk about is a modification of the traditional Lectio Divina.  If you want to learn more about this ancient practice you can check out this article from Bible Gateway.  This is modified for simplicity and to accommodate a shorter prayer time.  

  1. First, choose a passage of scripture.  I recommend no more than 5-7 verses and be sure to chose a passage you are familiar with.
  2. Quiet your mind using some of the prayer techniques we’ve talked about before.  I’ve found breathing prayer to be especially helpful in preparation for this process.
  3. Read through the chosen passage slowly.  As you do, you may notice that lots of things pop into your mind.  Things like your to-do list for the day, concerns or worries, or even people.  Try to set those things aside mentally.  It may help to write them down so you don’t have to try and hold on to them.  This first time through you may sense that God is drawing your attention to a particular word or phrase in the passage.  If so, keep it in the back of your mind.  If not, don’t force it.  I’ve found that, for me, the first time through is more about getting all the distractions out.
  4. Pause a breath for a few seconds, then read the passage again.  This time, take notice of what jumps out at you.  Is there a theme, word or phrase that seems to leap off the page?  Remember it.  It may help to say it out-loud.
  5. Pause again and do those breathing prayers for a bit and then read the passage a third time.  Pay special attention to those words or phrases that you got in the last step.  What emotions do they evoke? What came to mind when you heard them the second time?  Is there anything new here?  Spend some time thinking about these words and phrases then ask God what he’s saying to you through them.  
  6. Now, pray through what God has said.  

These methods will bring a new, powerful dynamic to your prayer life. They’re not something you need to do everyday (although you certainly can) but they are good practices to incorporate into your weekly and monthly routines.  I hope you experience new depths of connection and intimacy with God as you lean into praying scripture.  Let us know how it’s going or if you have questions in the comments.  We can’t wait to hear from you.

Once we’ve learned what God sounds like (for more on that check out Listening Prayer pt. 1),  we can begin trying to discern what he is saying.  Is he asking you to pursue a new job?  Should you be dating that person?  Is there something you need to repent from?  There’s no topic that God dosen’t want to talk to you about.  He also wants to bring restoration to the deep places in your heart.  As you grow in this, he may ask you to remember an old wound and allow him to walk you through it in order to bring healing to it.  He may show you an area of your life that you’ve withheld from him and walk you through surrendering it.  Once you learn to really hear from him, there’s no telling where he might lead. To experience this kind of intimacy and connectedness with God we must grow our ability to be tunned in to his voice and what he is saying.

Today, I’m going to show you three ways to help to discern what you are hearing from God.

  1. One of the ways we do that is through scripture.  God is unchanging, he will never contradict himself. If he seems to, then we have misunderstood something.  So, if you think God has given you some sort of insight or direction check it against what is written in the Bible.  God will not tell you to do something that contradicts his word in Scripture.  For example, God is not going to tell you to worship another God, disrespect your parents, murder, have a sexual relationship outside of marriage, steal, etc.  Those behaviors go against what he’s already said in scripture.  A great way to know what God has said about certain topics is to simply do a Google search for “Bible verses about _______.”  So if you feel like God is speaking to you about a career change fill in the blank with “work.”  
  2. The second way we can know what God is saying is by getting confirmation from other followers of Jesus.  In Acts 15, Luke records what is known as the Jerusalem Council.  This was a meeting of the early church leaders to discuss how the Gentiles should be instructed in their following of Jesus. Verses 22-35 record their decision and the letter that was to be sent to the Gentiles describing that decision.  Verse 28, begins with the phrase, “it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…”. The council had sought the Lord together and together determined what God was saying.  This wasn’t one person saying, “God told me…” it was the group of Godly men together saying “I agree it seems like this is what God is saying.” 
  3. The last thing to discuss today is fasting.  I once heard it said that we pray to connect with God and we fast to disconnect from the world. I’ve often found that fasting can lead to greater discernment for precisely this reason.  When we sacrifice something voluntarily, we are disconnecting from the world in favor of connecting with God.  If you’re not familiar with fasting, here’s a couple things you should know.  Most commonly, fasting refers to giving up all food and most beverages with, water, coffee and maybe juice being the exceptions.  Fasting will often last from 24 hours to several days.  However, Fasting doesn’t have to mean not eating food for a period of time.  You can fast from something in particular like a certain food or meal, a drink or activity for a particular period of time.  Rememberer the point of fasting is to disconnect from the world.  So, if there’s something you’re particularly fond of, consider giving it up for a period of time in order to disconnect from it and the world in favor of connecting with Jesus.

Your assignments for today are to continue practicing what you’ve already learned, prayer posture, starting with praise and learning to listen.  Then add these three practices over the next few days.  The first is easy, simply start searching for things God has said in the Bible that you think he might be speaking to you about now.  The second will be a little more challenging.  Try to find someone or a small group of people you can trust who will pray with you about something you think God might be saying.  Be willing to share with them what you think God is saying and ask them to seek his will on your behalf and share with you what they sense God is saying to you.  The third is the hardest, but I encourage you to try it.  Pray about it first. What is God asking you to give up and for how long in order to disconnect from the world?  Let us know what you’re doing in the comments.  May you connect with God like never before! 

One of the primary ways we connect with God and experience the joy of his presence is when we hear him speaking to us. Learning to hear his voice and move from praying at God to having a conversation with God allows to experience a new level of intimacy with him.  Think of it as the evolution of the relationship moving us from subjects offering prayers to a king to sons and daughters having a conversation with our father.

King David, who was known as a man after God’s own heart knew the joy of conversing with God.  In Psalm 34:4 he writes, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” and in verse 6, “This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” What a joy! Can you imagine?  The Lord not only hears your cries for help but wants to answer you and give instruction, encouragement, peace and wisdom.

Hearing from God isn’t some special gift reserved for pastors and elders.  You don’t have to work at a church, in paid-ministry or on the mission field.  There’s not even a requirement for how long you have to have been a Jesus follower before you get to hear him.  You just need to learn how.  Jesus himself said that we would know his voice and follow him (John 10:1-16, 26-27).  Peter says that everyone who follows him is now part of the priesthood (1 Peter 2:5,9).  That means that anyone who follows Jesus can talk with and hear from him.

But how do we know we’re talking to God?  How can we be sure it’s not just our conscious or our own thoughts we’re hearing?  More importantly how do we know it’s God’s voice and not the voice of our enemy?  A few years ago, I heard a simple technique that has proven to be effective for many, many people when they are first learning to hear and recognize the voice of God. 

First, practice the things we’ve already talked about: posturing for prayer and starting with praise.  Then, ask God to speak with you.  Tell him that you want to hear his voice, that you want to be one of the sheep that John 10 talks about how know his voice.  Then, ask him a question that you already know the answer to and listen for his response. Don’t rush it, wait till you hear something. 

Now understand, you’re not going to hear a booming voice from heaven.  You’re not likely to hear a voice at all.  What you will likely experience is words that seem to come to you from within your chest.  It feels familiar but also different from your own thought voice.  At first, it may be difficult to tell the difference between your thoughts and his voice.  Keep practicing, you’ll pick it up with time.


For the next few days do these things:

  1. Prayer Posture
  2. Prayers of Praise
  3. Ask him to speak
  4. Ask three questions, you can use these or your own but be sure to wait after each one to hear his answer
    1. Are you really there?
    2. Do you love me?
    3. Did you really die for me?
  5. Thank him for speaking

If you’re having a hard time hearing anything or deciphering what you’re hearing, you may be experiencing some spiritual interference from the enemy.  We’ll get more into this when we look at spiritual warefare, but for now try going back to the prayer posture and prayers of praise. Focus on proclaiming out-loud the truth about God’s love for you, how he has redeemed you, how he has made you righteous and adopted you as a daughter or son. If you’re able, claim some of the promises he’s made us in scripture.  For example, “Father, I know you’re here, because you’ve promised to never leave me or forsake me.”  Or, “God I praise you because you have overcome the enemy and set me free from sin and death and by your blood, death, sacrifice and resurrection, you’ve won victory for me.  I claim your victory now.”

Let us know how it’s going for you.  We’re praying you’ll experience powerful encounters with the Lord.  If you’re not, make sure to tell us so we can pray more specifically for you. Keep practicing these steps for the next few days.  Then, on Sunday, we’ll publish Listening Pt. 2.

In our efforts to seek to encounter God and experience his presence, we start by taking a posture of humility and with an attitude of receiving and requesting.  For more on what that looks like, check out 30 Days of Prayer – Prayer Posture.  For today, we want to take another step toward experiencing the presence of God by adding prayers of praise.  

There are three reasons to always begin your times of prayer with praise and thanksgiving. 

  1. Starting with praise is the example we see throughout Scripture, especially in the Psalms.  The book of Psalms can be thought of as a prayer manual of sorts.  Read through it and you’ll find many of them begin with praise.  Psalm 100 even instructs us in verse 4, to “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
  2. Beginning with praise also helps solidify the posture of humility that we’ve taken.  By verbally praising God, we are acknowledging to ourselves and the spiritual world that we are surrendered to him. That he is the one who is good and true, the one who is worthy of our praise and adoration.  It’s a good idea to give this praise out loud. Something happens when we hear our own voice speaking.  Our brains more readily believe the information we’re saying, causing us to be more confident in that information.  By declaring out loud that God is good, that we can trust him, that he’s strong and mighty, we are actually helping to convince ourselves of those truths.  This leads to a more natural posture of surrender and humility opening the door for God to lead.
  3. Praising God out loud helps to prepare the spiritual atmosphere.  We’ll talk more about this in a few weeks when we look at the role of prayer in Spiritual Warfare.  For now, just know that by declaring the truth about God out loud, you are breaking spiritual barriers that the enemy has tried to put between you and God and establishing an open line of communication for you to hear him and receive from him.

For the next few days, continue to practice your prayer posture.  You can use this as an example:

Heavenly Father, I come to you now to receive from you the grace, mercy, love and life I need this day.  I thank you for the new life you’ve given to me and I surrender myself to you to receive that life.  I give you all that I am, my spirit, soul and body my heart, mind and will.  You are the hero of my story and I belong to you.  I long to know you, to be restored and renewed in you and to be filled by you.  Would you meet me here and lead this time of prayer?

Then, move into a time of praise and thanksgiving.  You can write your own, use some of the Psalms or follow this example:

I sincerely praise you with everything I am.  I thank you for sending Jesus to make a way for me to know you.  I praise you because you are good, you are holy, you are the only one worthy of my adoration.  You are above all things. The heavens declare your greatness.  By your great love and mercy you have made me a son/daughter.  I thank you for adopting me and I now take my place in your story.

After praying through these two parts, spend some time practicing breathing prayers.  Focus on inhaling the presence of God and as you exhale, surrender yourself to him. 

It’s also helpful to throw up some prayers of praise and thanksgiving throughout the day.  They don’t have to be long, just a acknowledgment of the gifts and blessings he’s given you so far in the day. Even if it’s been a terrible day, find something to praise him for.  I’ve also found it helpful to set reminders on your phone three to five times throughout the day to remember to reconnect with God.  Let us know in the comments how it’s going for you or if you have any questions.  I’m praying that you would connect with God today like never before.

Welcome to 30 days of prayer, I’m so glad you’re taking this journey with us.  Over the next month, I’m going to encourage you to practice some things that will help take your prayer life to the next level.  As you engage in these things, I want to remind you that what we’re after is not some kind of system or rule to obey, but rather experiencing connection with God and in his presence, having our spirit refilled and restored with his light.  Let’s get started!

One of the first things for us to consider is how we should approach God.  What should our posture be? Now I don’t mean physically, although certain physical positions, such as kneeling, sitting with your hands open on your lap or knees or even standing and looking toward heaven can sometimes help.  What I mean by posture is our intent and attitude in coming before the Lord.  Are we coming to fulfill an obligation, are we seeking him only because we need something?  Or is our heart truly postured to be surrendered to him and receive whatever he has for us, bringing our requests humbly before him in submission to his will?  

Now, you may have heard that God is our father and so we can approach him as a good Dad.  If you’ve been around church very long you may have even heard someone use the Aramaic word Abba and translate it as “daddy.”  We find that word used in Romans 8:15, Mark 14:36 and Galatians 4:6.  While the intent here is good, that teaching is, in my opinion, a little off.  It’s true that God has adopted us as daughters and sons and he has given us the privilege of calling him Father. The term Abba certainly carries an intimacy beyond our English word Father, but when we consider Jesus example of prayer and the Jewish culture that this term comes from, Daddy simply dosent carry the respect and reverence that is intended in the term Abba.

This becomes more clear when we look at Jesus teaching on prayer.  In Matthew 6:5-15 and Luke 11:1-13 Jesus teaches his disciples to begin like this: “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  Of course we don’t talk exactly like that anymore but you can still see the point.  There is intimacy with the Father, but there is also reverence. He is after all, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings the God who created and holds the universe together. In Jesus example, he reminds the disciples that their Father is the one who sits enthroned in heaven and his name is Holy.  For us, following this model means approaching with an attitude of receiving and requesting not one of demanding.  We can expect God to hear us and answer us, but not to be a genie for us and do whatever we want him to.  It’s his story and we should be about his direction for our lives in it.

The best example I’ve found of how to begin with this posture comes from John Eldridge.  You can read the full prayer that he’s written here or use this as an example:

Heavenly Father, I come to you now to receive from you the grace, mercy, love and life I need this day.  I thank you for the new life you’ve given to me and I surrender myself to you to receive that life.  I give you all that I am, my spirit, soul and body my heart, mind and will.  You are the hero of my story and I belong to you.  I long to know you, to be restored and renewed in you and to be filled by you.  Would you meet me here and lead this time of prayer?  

After asking for renewal and re-surrendering to him, I want to encourage you to just sit and breathe in his presence.  Something that I’ve found very helpful is to close my eyes and imagine that as I inhale, I’m breathing in the presence of God and as I exhale I’m surrendering myself to him.  I even say to myself, “I receive your presence” as I inhale and “I surrender to you” as I exhale.  I’ll often come back to this breathing exercise several times throughout the day as a way to quickly and effectively reconnect and re-surrender to him.

Now, It’s your turn.  For the next three days, try John’s daily prayer or the one I’ve written above.  You can also write your own with the posture of surrendering and receiving whatever God has for you and letting him lead.  Then, practice the breathing prayer throughout the day.  Leave a comment and let us know how it’s working for you or if you have a question we’d love to try and answer that as well.  I pray that the Lord would meet you in new and astonishing ways and that you would know the hope, joy, peace, love and life that comes from his presence.

As we enter 2020, we want to invite you to join us in prayer for the first 30 days.  We’re not praying for anything specific, we just want to connect with God.  Our desire is that your relationship with him would grow and you would experience new depths of connection with him.  This is not about communication, answers or direction, it’s all about getting and staying close to God.

To help you connect with him, I’ll be posting some insights and instructions that will help you experience God’s presence in new ways.  We’ll look at the importance of how we approach God’s throne and how we can be confident that we’ve heard God speak. We’ll talk about some of the actions we take in prayer including, seeking forgiveness and renouncing idols, praying and interceding for others, and engaging in Spiritual Warfare.  We’ll also look at fasting including how, when and why you should fast. 

Remember, this is about connecting with God, it’s not about completing tasks or learning new skills.  Connection takes time, so a new post will go up on Wednesdays and Sundays giving a few days between each one for you to practice what you’re learning and grow your connection with God.  I hope you’ll consider joining us on this journey.  To make it easy for you, you can have these posts emailed to you whenever they are published, just fill out the subscribe form on this page.

My prayer for each of you is that the Lord will reveal himself to you, that you will be filled with his presence and that by his Spirit you will know him and his will and have the power to stand against the schemes of the enemy.  I pray that you will experience greater depths of hope, joy and peace as you walk with him more closely.  I pray that you will be astonished by what God will do, bringing healing, victory and new life in you and in others through you, as you connect with him.  May the King of Heaven bring his kingdom in greater ways in our lives, in our church, in our community and in this world.  Come Lord Jesus!