Mark 1:35, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Spending three hours in prayer can be an intimidating thing for those who have never spent extended time in prayer. Yet those who participate in our three hour prayer experiences come back wanting for more and excited about the experience of connecting with God and those who joined them in prayer. Spending time talking with God, hearing from Him in His Word and through His Holy Spirit can be life transformational. So what in the world do you do when spending three hours with God?
Speaking to God
I would suggest that you use the acronym CATS. This speaks of four themes of your time in speaking to God.
Start with confession to free yourself up from anything that is distracting you or weighing on you emotionally, spiritually or relationally. Confession is simply agreeing with God about your condition. He already knows, so confession is simply agreeing with Him and asking Him to forgive you of you human cussedness. This includes any sin you can think of, both in attitudes and actions. This includes a heart of repentance and a desire to ask God to help you repent and turn from those sins.
Psalm 139:23 (NIV) Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Focus your attention on the greatness of our God. Spend time setting your eyes on things above. Consider the expanse of our universe, as well as the creation all around you, the sun, the moon, the oceans, trees, mountains and the many expressions of the beauty of God’s creation. You might listen to some worship music. Sing. Read some scriptures on the greatness of God. Read Isaiah 40 and let the implications sink into your soul as you read it slowly and contemplate the implications of these truths.
Spend time journaling about your thoughts on the greatness of God in all His majesty. Then spend some time meditating, ruminating on the implications of the fact that you are worshiping God who is omni-competent, does all things well, never sleeps and loves you more than you could ever imagine.
A grateful heart is a happy heart. Spend some time thanking God for every blessing in your life. Write down a list of your blessings. Ask God to bring these blessings to your mind and see how many you can come up with, naming them “one by one.” It is the will of God, so embrace it with all your heart.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Pray for those in your circle of influence. List out your close and extended family members. List co-workers and neighbors and friends and Life Group members. Pray for them as you write them down and jot a note or two reflecting your desire for each one.
Ephesians 6:18 (ESV) praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Listening to God
Communication involves both speaking and listening. It is a two way conversation. I believe that this is the most important and life changing part of this time in prayer. Just because we have physical ears, does not mean that we are listening (at least that is what my wife tells me). God always speaks loud enough for the listening ear to hear (1 Kings 19:12). Jesus exhorted his followers to listen.
Matthew 11:15 (ESV) He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
In Revelation, God our Father sent Jesus to John on the Island of Patmos and within that message we call the Book of Revelation was a specific message for seven churches. Unfortunately those churches didn’t have “an ear to hear,” because they are no longer in existence today. More than being hearers only, they needed a heart to obey.
Like any relationship, if I am the only one doing the talking, it isn’t going to work. So I need to practice my listening skills, having ears to hear and and a will to respond to whatever it is that God reveals.
Philippians 2:13 (ESV) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Here are some great question to consider as you ask God to speak to you:
“What is the next step in my journey with You Lord?”
“What is the next step for my family?”
“What is the next step in my ministry?”
“What is the next step in my career?”
“What is the next step in my finances?”
“What is the next step in my education?”
“What is the next step in my relationships?”
Listening means that I stop doing the talking, asking for things, and come with a spirit of submission, “Lord, not my will, but Thy will be done.” In my experience, when I slow down and get my heart right, in a spirit of worship and adoration, God begins to download inspirational thoughts and ideas for the above questions. He provides me with conviction of what I need to do in each area and a motivation to action. Sometimes He expands my thoughts into new areas I hadn’t anticipated, providing new dreams and desires for moving forward in my life.
Even when God seems silent in giving me direction, being in His presence, with a humble and submissive heart, reminds me that God promises his presence, and that is enough. In our tech dominated society, we rarely are encouraged by others to slow down, be still and experience the presence of God in our midst.
Psalm 46:10 (ESV) “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
So stop talking and start listening to God. It is one of the best things you can do as you cultivate a living relationship with your creator.
Write a letter from God to yourself. As God sent a letter to the seven churches in Revelation, prayerfully consider what God would say in a letter to you. Here is a rough outline with pieces from God’s letters to those seven churches (Revelation 2–3) that can be a guide as you write:
A greeting from God (to you), using one of God’s special names:
A praise from God to you for something you are doing well:
A matter that needs to be changed (condemnation):
God’s calling for repentance:
A promise from God, if you will follow through on the charge from God:
A warning – a threat if you do not repent:
A statement from God, as a reminder to listen:
You can spend three hours with God in prayer with others, or you can head out on your own. It is a spiritual discipline that can take your spiritual life to another level of intimacy with God. So put it on your schedule or it will never happen. God’s best to you!
Be sure to come back and comment after your prayer experience…fr