If you want to be a godly Christian man, especially one who aspires to lead others, you must devote time to daily private prayer. Many of my comments about Bible reading apply here too. Turn off your phone, start with just 5 mins a day, do it every day, be focused and energetic, and so on. But I want to give you three specific helps for private prayer.
Pray the Bible
Pray briefly before reading the Bible to ask for God’s blessing on your reading. Usually it’s best for your main prayer to follow the reading of God’s Word. That’s because reading God’s Word should give you material for prayer. For example, if you read about Christ’s birth, praise God for the incarnation. If you read about a sin, confess it or pray against it. If you read about a Christian grace, ask God to give it to you and your loved ones, or increase it. If you read about the ungodly, pray for the conversion of the ungodly, If you read about the Church, pray for your own church. If you read about missions, pray for help to evangelize and witness as well as for God’s blessing on missionaries you know. Using the Bible in this way will keep your prayers fresh.
Follow the ACTS pattern: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Although following this might seem repetitive, it’s a helpful structure, and the details under each part of it can vary each day depending on your own personal situation and circumstances. Again use material from your daily Bible reading to guide you under each heading.
Adoration: Spend a minute or so worshipping God for what he means to you.
Confession: Spend time in confessing your own sins.
Thank: Express gratitude to God for his blessings in your life.
Supplication: Ask for what you are in special need of. Proceed in every increasing circles.
Pray the Circles
Circle 1: The center circle focuses on your own needs.
Circle 2: The next is the circle of your family – wife, children, parents, siblings and other relations. These are the people that God has bound you up with in life by birth and marriage and you have a special responsibility to pray for them.
Circle 3: The next concentric circle is your church family – your pastor, elders, members, etc.
Circle 4:Then there’s your friends outside church, your community, your nation, and your world. You can see that you are widening more and more as you go.
Action: Three Methods of Prayer
Three helps to private prayer. Pray the Bible. Pray ACTS. Pray the Circles. Try each of these methods over the next three days and continue to rotate them until it becomes natural to you. The more regular daily prayer is embedded in your life, the more prayerful your whole life will be. And if you are going to be a real Christian man in this world, you are going to need a lot of prayer.
Real Men Pray
1. Choose a verse from your daily Bible reading and turn it into a prayer. Write out the prayer to help you put it into words.
2. Estimate what percentage of your daily prayer you give to (1) adoration, (2) confession, (3) thanksgiving, and (4) supplication. Which of these areas do you need to increase and how will you do it?
3. Make a short list of people in each of the prayer circles 2-4 (see transcript here). Choose one circle to pray for each day or one name from each circle to pray each day.