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How to Spend an Hour with God

Planning a Prayer Vigil

Imagine yourself into this scenario: the New Year’s Day prayer vigil you planned for your congregation last year was a disappointment. The only people who signed up—besides you—were three faithful ladies and the youth pastor, who owed you for chaperoning the Christmas teen event. It’s taken you three months to figure out that the idea of spending a whole hour in prayer is intimidating to your congregation. Spending that much time in prayer seems an impossible and unspeakably boring prospect.

To help change their minds, we developed the following guide to help lead a person through an hour of prayer. To our delight, many of those exiting the prayer room express surprise at how quickly their time passed. Several have asked if they could return later for a second hour.

We placed copies of the guide in the prayer room on a table draped in white. We also set out a dozen votive candles, matches, and a sign that reads “Many people find that lighting a candle during prayer is a visual reminder that even when we are quiet, our prayer continues before God.” You could also set out a vase of lilies or a print such as Marc Chagall’s Song of David, along with the specific materials listed in the prayer guide.

For more tools or for more information on how to set up a prayer vigil for your church, visit www.pathwaycrc.org.

How to Spend an Hour in Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
—Philippians 4:6-7

This guide for spending an hour in prayer is based on the ACTS format: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (asking for help).

Materials needed:
Bible, index cards, journal or paper, pen

Adoration

(approximately 10 minutes)

  • As you begin, close your eyes for a moment and relax. Ask God to quiet your thoughts so you can focus on him. Ask God to speak to you today.
  • Read Psalm 148 aloud to the Lord.
  • On a piece of paper, list ten things about God that you can praise because you have seen them in your own life (for example, faithfulness, strength).
  • Speak to the Lord, praising him for those specific instances. Tell him how much you love him.

Confession

(approximately 10 minutes)

  • Sit quietly in God’s presence and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the places you have fallen short. These might be specific instances (“I lost my temper this morning”), or habitual sins (lust, anger, and so on).
  • Confess these things aloud to God. Ask for forgiveness and for God’s help to turn away from them. If necessary, write yourself a reminder to apologize to anyone you’ve injured.
  • Read Psalm 51 aloud as a prayer of confession and repentance.

Thanksgiving

(approximately 10-15 minutes)

  • In your journal or on a piece of paper, make a list of twenty things you are thankful for (past or present).
  • Go back over the list and thank God for the specifics of each item. Linger over the amazing way God helped you each time. Write some of the details down in your journal.
  • Take a few minutes to thank God for answered prayer.
  • Slowly read aloud Psalm 100 to the Lord.

Supplication

(approximately 15-20 minutes)

  • God tells us to bring our burdens to him. Read 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 37:3-8; and Psalm 55:22.
  • Take time now to bring your cares to the Lord and ask him for help. Tell God your fears. Speak as if he’s right beside you—because he is.

Conclusion

(approximately 10-15 minutes)

  • If any thoughts or Scriptures stood out as you read or prayed, write them down and take them with you. Meditate on these things the next time you sit down to pray.
  • Ask God to give you his peace.
  • Take an index card and write on it one of the following verses: 1 John 5:14-15; James 4:6-8; Proverbs 3:5-6; Matthew 6:31-34; 1 Peter 5:6-7.
  • When you get home, put the card where you’ll see it often. Memorize the passage on it and use it to remind yourself that God is at work in the things you prayed about.
  • End by reading Psalm 23 aloud.
  • Sit quietly in God’s presence for a few moments before you go.