As we look at the life of Christ, we see a life of continual connection with God. Jesus often spent time alone in prayer early in the morning (Luke 5:16) and in the evening (Matt. 14:23). He also spent entire nights in prayer (Luke 6:12). “His humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. He found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. And if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer.”1 And yet we, who look to Christ as an example, ask, “How can anyone possibly pray all day—or even for an entire hour?” Below is a guide for how to structure an hour in prayer with 10 scripturally-based aspects. Conveniently, each hour can be divided into 10 six-minute points of focus, allowing specific time for each of these vital areas. Of course, some of these aspects may require only a minute, while others—such as intercessory prayer for the world—will require far more than a mere six minutes.

Before we can begin our prayer, we should take time to quiet our minds and remove distractions when coming into God’s presence (Ps. 37:7; Isa. 40:31; Lam. 3:25). This may be done through the reading of a devotional or by listening to spiritual music. It may mean going to a special corner of your home, one that is set aside for time with God. This preparation involves simply taking time to let God love you and to bask in His presence.

1. Praise/adoration (Ex. 15:1, 2; Ps. 63:1-5; Matt. 6:9- 10; Rev. 4:6-11; 5:12; 19:6). All prayer should begin with recognition of God’s nature. The Lord’s Prayer—our model for all prayers—begins with “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Praise is that aspect of prayer which vocally esteems God for His virtues and accomplishments. There are four reasons for adoration:

a. Adoration sets the tone for the entire prayer.

b. Adoration reminds us of God’s identity and inclination.

c. Adoration purifies the one who is praying.

d. God is worthy of adoration.

2. Confession (Ps. 51; 139:23, 24; Jer. 3:12, 13; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 1 John 1:9, 10). The psalmist asked God to search his heart for unconfessed sin. He knew that sin was one of the greatest roadblocks to answered prayer. Early in our prayers, we need to make time for confession. This clears the way for powerful praying. Confession has three primary benefits:

a. Your conscience will be cleansed.

b. You will be flooded with relief that God has a forgiving nature.

c. You will feel free to pray.

3. The Word (Num. 23:19; 2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 119; Jer. 23:29; 2 Tim. 3:16). “The commandment of the Lord [his Word] is pure, enlightening the eyes” (Ps. 19:7). When we bring God’s Word into our prayer, we are opening our eyes to new possibilities in God. Here we bring actual Scripture into our prayer. We take the example of Peter and John in Acts 4:23-30 as they prayed for the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Old Testament, acknowledging the power of God against those who wanted to harm them. Read God’s Word and pray God’s Word. We can never pray out of God’s will when we pray God’s Word.

4. Intercession (Ps. 2:8; Matt. 9:35-39; John 17; 1 Tim. 2:1, 2). Our prayer now centers on intercession for a lost and dying world. This means praying for others who have desperate needs. Pray for:

a. Ministry.

b. The spiritual and physical needs of people in the church and around the world.

c. Family.

d. Friends and colleagues.

5. Petition (Ps. 23; Matt. 6:11-13, 33; 7:7-11; Luke 11:1-13; James 4:2, 3). This aspect of prayer concerns our personal needs. Petition is included in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” To petition God is to present our need to God through prayer.

6. Thanksgiving (Ps. 100; 136; Phil. 4:6). When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he instructed them to offer prayer and supplication “with thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving differs from praise in that praise recognizes God for who He is, while thanksgiving recognizes God for specific things He has done. Thank God for:

a. Answered prayers.

b. Spiritual blessings.

c. Relational blessings.

d. Material blessings.

7. Singing (Ps. 111-113; Col. 3:16). “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). Many Christians have learned the beauty of singing a “new” song unto God during prayer. These songs may be psalms or hymns, or they may come straight from the heart with the Holy Spirit creating the melody. To sing unto the Lord is to worship Him.

8. Listening (1 Kings 19:11-14; Ps. 37:7; 40:1; Eccl. 5:1-3; John 10:2-4). Whether through His written Word or by the inner “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit, God speaks to praying Christians. But we must take time to listen.

a. Don’t be uncomfortable with silence.

b. What you hear from God will be in harmony with His Word.

c. God may tell you of personal changes to be made or of people to reach, or He may just tell you that He loves you.

9. Commitment (Ps. 31:5; 37:5; Prov. 16:3; John 13:17). When we pray, we should take time to recommit and dedicate ourselves to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Each day we should make a new commitment to walk with our Creator and be submitted to His will.

10. Praise (Ps. 135; 150; Matt. 6:13). We began our prayer by recognizing God’s nature, and we end in similar fashion, praising Him for His sovereignty. Jesus taught this when He ended His prayer with the statement, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

Everyone has a different prayer life, and what I have outlined above are just suggestions. Developing a prayer habit will lead you into a ministry that changes you and the world around you.

1 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1892), 93.