Back in late March and early April I taught a course on prayer at the Kiev Theological Seminary in Ukraine. Because a wealth of material had already been prepared with slides in Russian and English, I adapted those slides to my purposes. One section of the material was called “How to Spend a Holy Hour with God” and was originally crafted by Peter Lord.
Seeing Peter Lord’s name took me back to seminary. In a spiritual formation class I used his 2959 Plan (29 minutes, 59 seconds, or roughly half an hour daily) as a devotional tool for a class and then continued for years. The pastor of First Baptist Titusville, Florida, for many years, Lord’s resource then proved to be a key part of my spiritual formation then. I found his information on spending an hour with God to be helpful as well.
The following does not follow the steps given by Peter Lord with precision, but offers my adaptation of them. Of course, following a set of steps can become an empty ritual, so I do not follow these slavishly. But 2-3 times a week I set aside an hour or so to sit at the feet of Jesus, walking through this as a discipline. Hyperactive folks like me need to create space to fellowship with the Savior, for my activist spirit gets in the way of resting in Him at times. Perhaps you will find these helpful as well.
1. I read a selection from Oswald Chambers’ book My Utmost for His Highest. I am typically not a big fan of devotional books, even a classic like this one. But for this season I find reading a selection of Chambers gets me focused.
2. Praise: take time simply to praise God. Reflect on His greatness, Who He is. Gaze at Him, be filled afresh with wonder at our great God. We so hurriedly run to our needs; begin instead by gazing at God before so much as glancing at your need.
3. Wait: sit still. Be still and know that He is God. For me, I take a bit of time at this juncture to think about the day ahead and submit my schedule to Him. Some may object and say that thinking about a calendar during our devotional time is a distraction. Because I think all things are to be under His Lordship and not just my “spiritual” activities, I desperately need to surrender my calendar to Christ, as well as my to-do and my stop-doing lists. I do not stay here long, but for me to settle into a season of prayer it definitely helps to lay my day at His feet.
4. Confession: this includes confessing sin the Holy Spirit convicts me of (sometimes that takes a while!) and rejoicing in the work of the gospel. But it also includes positive confession–I confess Him as Lord, I confess my need for Him, and so on.
5. Scripture: Currently I’m reading through Hebrews. Regular, focused Scripture reading is vital to our growth. This includes reading, reflecting, and applying the Word to my stubborn heart.
6. Thanksgiving: taking time daily to gives thanks in all things helps to fix our minds on Christ. This is where I sometimes will “preach the gospel to myself” in this regard: I reflect on the wonder of creation and give thanks. I thank God for creating me in His very image and for gifting and calling me, and for my family as well. I think of the wretchedness of the fall and my own sin, and I thank God for His rescue through Christ. I thank Jesus for humbling Himself to the point of dying for a wretch like me. And, I thank God that we ahve the honor of service Him now, and the hope of the restoration ahead.
7. Intercession: this is the time to pray for others, including–
Family–for spiritual, intellectual, emotional, relational, and physical growth and well-being, as well as specific needs.
My church, my school, the Young Pros ministry I lead, my students.
Missionaries and other servants.
My friends who do not yet know Christ.
8. Petition: praying for myself.
My own growth and well being spiritually, emotionally, relationally, intellectually, and physically. I pray for specific matters, that I would be a man of God, that I would teach well, write well, etc.
7 and 8 can take a little time or it can take a long time. I suggest keeping a list of needs.
9. A song: Peter Lord suggests singing a song. With our technology today I typically put a song I have on my phone on itunes that leads me to worship Him. Matt Redman’s “10,000 reasons,” which became a special song while in Kiev, is an example.
10. Psalm: the daily reading of a Psalm in addition to the study of Scripture above is helpful. I find myself identifying with the Psalms at many levels.
11. Meditation: I confess that I stink at this, being the activist I am. But remembering that unlike eastern meditation which focuses on emptying the mind, Christian meditation focuses on Christ. Meditate on the Scripture you read. Reflect on where you are on the journey of sanctification. Think well of who God is and His great love. This is also a time to work on Scripture memory.
12. Praise: there is no better way to end a season with God than by praising Him.
I utilize a journal as a key part of this process, and I encourage you to do the same. Sadly, there are many who claim Christ in the West who will sit through a movie or a ball game for hours but have never once in their life spent a whole hour in prayer. Could it be the reason we find ourselves so stressed out has something to do with our crowded schedules and our empty prayer lives? Even in writing this post I am reminded afresh of the need to set aside time to sit at His feet. I hope you will be encourage to do so as well.