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7 Proven Tips to Revive Your Prayer Life

I have found these prayers of Paul incredibly valuable both in inspiring me to pray for others this way, but showing me, modeling for me how to do it, and that is what I would encourage us to do is just make those prayers so much a part of us that we can’t help but pray this way for other people.

And then there are Paul’s invitations to the readers of his letters to pray for him. “Brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored” (2 Thessalonians 3:1). And Romans 15:30–31, “I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable.” For me to hear the greatest man who ever existed, I think, short of Jesus, to have him ask for prayer this way is so life-giving, so warm. It just makes me want to get on my knees and do that for somebody, because Paul, if he needed it—good night!—everybody we know needs prayer like that.

So I think that is about the most motivating thing I could say that God tells us to pray and then he gives lots of examples for how to do it. And he loves to see us do it, which is probably why Revelation 5:8 describes the prayers in the golden bowls in the hands of the elders as incense before God. What does incense before God do? Well, it just fills his room with pleasant fragrance. That is what it does. And what a beautiful image to get down on your knees and say: I am right now going to light a sweet smelling lamp or candle and it is going to fill the room of heaven with a fragrance this afternoon or this morning that God is going to be pleased by.

Seven Simple Prayer Tips

That is the most important thing I could say, but that is not what Nathan asked for. He asked for tips. He asked for suggestions. So here they go. I am just going to bang away. And, really, these don’t have biblical authority, because these are just kind of growing out of Piper’s experience and that is what saints should do for each other. We should share what we have discovered.

1) Use a list. Break it up in categories. We are talking about people now, all right? You probably over time are going to know more people, have more people ask you to pray, have your circle of relationships grow so that one list is hopeless. You have got to break it up into pieces, various groups. And I find that creating a notebook in Evernote on my iPad, I have got a notebook called prayer. And under prayer, I have these different kind of groupings, and you can add people to various lists and then you can decide on when you are going to pray for those people. So use lists.

2) Think and pray in concentric circles with the closest relationships near the center and then move out to the more anonymous prayers for groups and ministries and nations. So, for example, in my Evernote folder, I move from my immediate family at home—that is, the three of us, well, actually two now that Talitha is in college, but it used to be three—out from there to the children and the grandchildren who live away, and then out from there to the ministries I am associated with and the people in Bethlehem Baptist Church and desiringGod.org and Bethlehem College & Seminary. I have a whole slew of people that I pray for there.

And then I move out to the church planters that I know and the Treasuring Christ Together fellowship. And then I move out to ministries like Together for the Gospel and The Gospel Coalition and Training Leaders International and a lot of friends there that are on my list. And then I move out to my neighborhood and a few people I have written down in the neighborhood and, sometimes just in my jogging-evangelism that I do in good weather and I will meet people and they will tell me their name and I ask them what I can pray for and that goes on one of my lists. So concentric circles is one way I handle the diversity of those lists.

3) Pray the Word of God over these people. This will keep your prayers from being merely repetitive. Read the Word of God first. Meditate on it. Pray in it. And then pray what God shows you from the Word for the people that are appointed to be prayed for that day.

4) Periodically assess your prayers for them by comparing what you pray with what the New Testament prayers. I gathered in one place—and I think this is available. We could check, Tony, and make it available. I think it is available at Desiring God. I gathered into one place all of the things that are prayed for in the New Testament—a list of about 40 different prayers. And I use that list not every day, but periodically. I just run through it and say: OK, am I neglecting anything important that the New Testament prayed for?

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John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. © Desiring God.