NotesA time of personal prayer can last from a few minutes to up to an hour. Given the rush of daily life, a few minutes is about all we mere mortals can achieve.
As Jesus said, we should find a quite spot in a quiet moment during the day. Probably the worst spot is our bed. We are likely to fall asleep before we get going. In Victorian times the gentry would have their own personal Prayer Desk in the "big house". It was another age.
Having found our moment and our place, we then just work through the basic elements of a prayer time (sometimes called "a quit time", "personal devotions"....):
Confession. In any prayer time it is best to begin by reflecting on our unworthiness - our failings. We certainly can't come before the Lord with a proud heart.
Praise. We should quickly move from a sense of our unworthiness, and focus on the wonder of God's mercy in forgiving and accepting us. In Jesus he smiles at us, is filled with joy as we come into his presence. This truth should uplift us and leave us with a powerful sense of self-worth.
Hearing God's Word. A short Bible reading is an important part of a time of personal prayer. Scripture Union note are a very useful tool for a devotional reading of the Bible.
Prayer. Most believers like to begin their prayers with the Lord's Prayer and then go on to speak to the Lord about the needs of others (intercessions) and then their own needs (supplications).
Thanksgiving. Ending with a "thank you" to the Lord is a great way to finish.
Using the Book of Common Prayer
Many believers like to use a set form of Daily Prayer and these forms can be found in the Prayer Books of the main Christian denominations, e.g. Roman, Anglican (Episcopalian), Lutheran.... These services are designed to be said by small groups and so don't always work well for just one person. The best way to read them is to simply leave out the responses.
Below is an outline service using prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, revised. It is just a shortened version of Morning Prayer for personal use.
Personal PrayerA prayer of preparation. The Collect for purity.
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts,
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
A prayer of confession
Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
We have sinned against you
in thought, and word, and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
Have mercy on us;
forgive us all that is past,
and grant that we may serve you
and live a new life to your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A word of praise. The wonder of forgiveness.
If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the perfect offering for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1,2.
A reading from the Psalms is a wonderful way to give praise to God. e.g. 2, 8, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 33, 45, 46, 47, 48, 61, 63, 65, 72, 76, 78, 84, 87, 89, 93, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 110, 111, 113, 114, 115, 117, 122, 132, 134, 135, 136, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150,
A Bible reading. A reading from the Bible. Depending on time, an Old Testament and New Testament reading work well.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.
The Collect of the Day. In the Prayer Books there is a special prayer for each Sunday. People often use it during the week in their personal prayer time.
The Collect for Peace
O God, the author and lover of peace, in knowledge of whom stands our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom; defend us your servants in all assaults of our enemies, that, surely trusting in your defence, we may not fear the power of any adversaries, through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Collect for Grace
Eternal God and Father, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed: guide and strengthen us by your Spirit, that we may give ourselves to your service, and live this day in love to one another and to you; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
The Collect of the evening
Lighten our darkness, Lord, we pray: and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son Jesus Christ. Amen
Supplication and Intercession. Appropriate prayers for ourselves and others.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give humble and hearty thanks
for all your goodness and loving kindness to us and to all people;
we bless you for our creation, preservation
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your amazing love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace;
and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us that due sense of all your mercies,
that our hearts may be truly thankful
and that we may declare your praise
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up ourselves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be all honour and glory,
now and for ever. Amen.
Conclusion. The Prayer of Saint Chrysostom.
Almighty God, you have given us grace to bring before you with one accord our common supplications, and you promise that when two or three are gathered together in your name you will grant them their requests; fulfil now, Lord, the desires and petitions of your servants, as may be most expedient for them, granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.
Merciful God, to you we commend ourselves and all those who need your help and correction.
Where there is hatred, give love; Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is sadness, joy; Where there is darkness, light;
Grant that we may not seek so much;
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
For in giving we receive, in pardoning we are pardoned, and in dying
we are born into eternal life.
St.Francis of Assisi.
Index of studies: Resource library
Pumpkin Cottage Ministry Resources
Lectionary Bible Studies and Sermons