September 30, 2011

A Sample Prayer Plan

by Mike Riccardi

In his classic, Desiring God, John Piper diagnoses that a main hindrance to prayer is our lack of planning. He tells us,

Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the main reasons so many of God’s children don’t have a significant life of prayer is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to. If you want to take a four-week vacation, you don’t just get up one summer morning and say, “Hey, let’s go today!” You won’t have anything ready. You won’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned.

But that is how many of us treat prayer. We get up day after day and realize that significant times of prayer should be a part of our life, but nothing’s ever ready. We don’t know where to go. Nothing has been planned. No time. No place. No procedure.

And we all know that the opposite of planning is not a wonderful flow of deep, spontaneous experiences in prayer. The opposite of planning is the rut. If you don’t plan a vacation, you will probably stay home and watch TV. The natural, unplanned flow of spiritual life sinks to the lowest ebb of vitality. There is a race to be run and a fight to be fought. If you want renewal in your life of prayer, you must plan to see it.

I think his point is outstanding, and it definitely has rung true in my own life. To that end, I drafted a sample prayer plan some time ago to add structure to my own personal worship times. I’d like to share it with you, dear Cripplegate readers, not as something to be rigidly followed, but as a suggestion to help get you into—or back into—a thriving, regular, consistent time of worship and communion with God in prayer.

Wake up: 5:30 am
Time: Daily, 6:00 am to 7:00 am
Place: Kitchen Table

6:00-6:05 – Drawing Near & Confession

  • Come before your Father in the name of Jesus Christ, on the basis of the work He’s done in the Gospel.
  • Acknowledge your dependence upon the Holy Spirit even in your prayers (Rom 8:26–27). Ask for His help in the coming hour.
  • Pray that the Father would receive this time as worship from a heart gladdened by His glorious grace.
  • Confess your sin in light of God’s holiness. Ask for forgiveness on the basis of Christ’s shed blood on the Cross (Matt 6:12; Heb 10:19–23).

6:05-6:10 – Praise & Thanksgiving

Spend time simply delighting in all that God is for you in Christ. Meditate on the beauty of His manifold perfections and His wondrous deeds throughout the ages. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name (Ps 96:7–9), and honor Him as God by giving thanks to Him (Rom 1:21) for all His good and perfect gifts (Jas 1:17).

6:10-6:20 – God-Centered Petitions

  • Pray for God’s name to be glorified above all things by all peoples (Matt 6:9).
  • Pray for His kingdom to increase through the ministry of the Church (Matt 6:10a).
  • Pray for His kingdom to come in its fullness (Matt 6:10a; Rev 22:20). That is, pray for His second coming and the establishment of His consummated reign upon the earth.
  • Pray for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10b); namely, without hesitation and full of joyful zeal.


6:20-6:30 – Personal Petitions

  • Pray for growth in grace and godliness (2Pet 3:18). Be specific with your particular needs for growth.
  • Battle in prayer against specific sins. Engage in the work of mortification (Rom 8:12–13).
  • Pray for opportunities of personal ministry, that your light would shine before men to the glory of your Father (Matt 5:16).
  • Pray for God to provide (and to continue to provide) for your daily necessities (Matt 6:11): for food, shelter, employment, etc.
  • Pray for freedom from temptation (Matt 6:13), and, when temptation comes, strength to endure it without falling (1Cor 10:12–13).
  • Pray for the strength to persevere and endure in trials (Jas 1:2–4), whether they be present or future, or both.

6:30-6:40 – Intercessory Prayer

During this time, pray for the requests of particular circles of friends and family. This may involve keeping a prayer list and referring to it as you’re praying. Pray for different circles on different days. For example, on a 5-day cycle:

  • On Mondays, pray for particular requests from your immediate and extended family.
  • On Tuesdays, pray for the requests of those in your small group Bible study.
  • On Wednesdays, pray for your pastors and elders, as well as the missionaries your church supports. (You might pick a different missionary family or two each week and cycle through.) Pray also for pastors, elders, and missionaries you know outside of your own church.
  • On Thursdays, pray for the requests of those whom you interact with at your job. What a great way to both minister and witness to those at your job!
  • On Fridays, pray for other friends outside of the aforementioned circles, as well as specifically for the salvation of unbelievers you know.

6:40-6:55 – Meditation

Choose a passage of Scripture to meditate on and pray through. This should be regular. That is, don’t just pick a random passage every day. You might choose to meditate on the main text and the supplemental texts of your pastor’s sermon from the previous Sunday. That would be a great way to be an expositional listener. You might also do a Psalm per day. You could also pick 8 verses of Psalm 119 per day, as that’s broken up very nicely. For example,

  • Monday – Psalm 119:1–8
  • Tuesday – Psalm 119:9–16
  • Wednesday – Psalm 119:17–24
  • Thursday – Psalm 119:25–32
  • Friday – Psalm 119:33–40

Really pray these texts into your soul. This is not reading merely for exposure or content. This is reading to see and know and worship God. This should be different than your daily Bible reading, and should be a small enough passage that you can pray through it in 15 minutes.

6:55-7:00 – Summarize

  • Thank God for the time spent with Him and for His gracious revelation of Himself in His Word.
  • Express your trust in Him to grant the things you’ve prayed for according to His sovereign, wise, and good will, and according to the glory of His name.
  • Pray again for strength and grace to glorify Him and serve people in His name throughout your day.

One thing I have asked from Yahweh, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of Yahweh
And to meditate in His temple.
– Psalm 27:4 –

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
– John 14:13 –

Ask and you will receive,
so that your joy may be made full.
– John 16:24 –

Mike Riccardi

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Mike is the Pastor of Local Outreach Ministries at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. He also teaches Evangelism at The Master's Seminary.
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  • John

    Thanks Mike, this really helps me to be more intentional about my prayer life.

  • A good friend sent me a helpful message asking if I intended to say that one should pray for his dear wife and children (or her husband and children) only once a week. I’m thankful for that question, and just in case anyone else was thinking about it, I wanted to post a comment here.

    The answer is no, I don’t think you should limit your prayer for your family to one time per week. Just as a personal note, prayer for the spiritual well-being and growth of my wife (we don’t have kids yet) usually falls into my daily “Personal Petitions” section, even though I haven’t indicated it there. In the “intercessory” section, I was thinking more about particular requests that your wife and kids ask you to pray for them about. Of course, you need not limit that to once a week either.

    Just to reiterate: I provide this sample plan as a way of providing structure for those who just don’t have any and don’t know where to start. If the overall structure helps you, please feel free to adjust the particulars in any way that is beneficial.

  • Brad

    Thanks for this Mike! I am going to apply it to my life!

  • Annemarie Williams

    This is extremely helpful, thank you.

  • Wonderful post. Thank you!

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  • This looks great, Mike. Thank you!

  • Becky Daily On My Way to Heave

    Love it! Thanks for posting.

  • Sheldon Green

    Hi Mike. I’ve only recently joined up to recieve posts from CG. Now I’m catching up on older posts; hence my somewhat belated response (well immediate response, actually, since I’ve only just read your enlightening, encouraging and useful article).

    The Lord called me to repentance in January last year (2011) and, as I’m sure is the case with many new Christians, I have gone through a year of so much “newness” of life in him, it’s unreal! The Lord has taught me so much in such a short time; He has given me capacity beyond my wildest dreams to absorb so much of Him; and I know that my learning has only just begun.

    One of my most fervent prayers has been that He would teach me to pray. And so he has; for I believe (because he has told us so) that if we ask anything of Him which will glorify Him, those requests he will grant, and there is no question as to his answer to this prayer. It is very clear to me that true, unselfish, loving, needy prayer is answered clearly; we just have to be open to His answers (they might not always be what we expect!).

    Praying His word also has been a great source of strength for me and is clearly stated by Jesus in the book of John “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” Jn 15:7. Continually praying through His word brings understanding which, without prayer, would often be all but lost.

    And then again concerning continuous prayer; “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Don’t stop praying.

    Thank you for this article. It helps to renew our desire to pray with purpose, dependence and faith. Our God is immensely great!

  • Lynn Walker

    Love this. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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