I try to take a half-day each month to pray. I go to a place where I can be alone (or relatively so) and spend four to six hours thinking, praying, and worshiping. Sometimes I take my guitar. Most times, I walk for a few miles and talk to God in the quiet beauty of nature.
I usually begin with a walk and, during this first walk, tell God what I admire about him. Sometimes I will go through the alphabet, finding a word or words for each letter that reflects something of God’s character. He is, for example: able; brilliant; compassionate; determined; and so forth.
Q is difficult, as is Z, and especially X. For X, I am forced to rely on the same word again and again: Xenophilic, someone who loves aliens and strangers.
When I have prepared my heart and mind by remembering who God is and what he is like, I pray for the church – the one of which I am a part but also the local churches and pastors I know and love. I usually do so by praying through Scripture passages. Some of my favorites are Colossians 1:9-12, Philippians 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:15-23, and 3:14-19.
After my prayer walk, I return to read the Scriptures. Sometimes I read other books as well. I take a notebook and jot down ideas – ideas that are frequently helpful to me in relationships and in leadership.
For the past few years, I have used the final prayer time of the day to pray for my own family. I begin by writing down prayer requests. Then I go back over the things I’ve written and talk to God about them. I’ve done this for my wife, our three sons, my two daughters-in-law, and my grandchildren.
Today I prayed for my second grandchild, whose nickname is Z. She is four years old, has an older brother and a younger sister. Here are a few of the things I talked to God about on behalf of Z.
Thank you for Z, Lord Creator. She is a work of art and of genius. Thank you for giving her to us to know and love and grandparent.
Help us to love her well by knowing her well. Show us enough of what you have made her to be and to do that we can affirm her true self, guide her when she will benefit, and hope for her throughout our lives here and after.
Please do this for K & B (her parents) as well. Help them rejoice in Z’s uniqueness and value her in a way that assures her that she is precious.
I pray that she and P (her brother) might be best friends throughout their lives. May P respect her and love her and may she respect P and love him. Give them the bond that you always intended for brothers and sisters.
May she and H (younger sister) also love each other and respect each other. May she be a blessing, a protector, and a guide to H and may H look up to Z for her entire life.
Please give Z a friend or friends whom she can know for years and trust completely, friends who will be faithful to her.
Reveal yourself to her while she is still young: your absolute power and your unfathomable, unstoppable love. Give her insights into who you are that shape who she is. Enable her to articulate some of those to other people for their blessing.
Give her worthwhile interests to pursue. Grant her a keen mind and a willing heart. Reveal yourself to her through her interests and then reveal yourself to others through her.
So work in her that she loves your church and comes to understand why it is so important to you. Grace her to serve and bless it.
Give her someday, if it is your will, a husband who will be one with her and who will always be faithful to her. Cause their relationship to develop in a way that it demonstrates Christ’s relationship with his church. If it is what you desire, give her children, godly offspring, to bless the world and honor your name.
Please give her a special relationship with each of her uncles and aunt(s), one that blesses them and her.
If these ideas for an extended prayer time pique your interest, give them a try. Know that you may have to do this a few times before you find what works for you, so don’t give up. It has proved a help to me, a time I now value and do not want to miss.