How to Pray…& Not Fall Asleep like Peter, James, & John [Infographic]

I’m a minister and sometimes I struggle to know how to pray. For a long time I thought I should just know how. But, I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that most believers have never been taught how to pray. Why is this? Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them. They needed to be taught and so do I.

A mentor gave me a simple diagram a few years ago to guide me through extended periods of prayer. It’s been so helpful to me that I wanted to share it with you. Sharing is what my blog is all about.

Go to Meet God.001

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I usually find a solitary place and spend at least three hours there. Ideally, I’ll do this once a month. I take a Bible, a notebook, and a pen. I don’t rush. I start working my way around the circle, transitioning to each section when it seems appropriate…

  1. Praise God. Begin your time with God by praising Him. Tell him how wonderful he is. I like to mention all of God’s attributes to him. 

  2. Be silent & seeking. Just be quiet for awhile. Your thoughts might wander. Give yourself enough time in silence to slow your mind down. Just be still and quiet.

  3. Admit your sins. Confess your sins to God. Tell him about things you’ve done, things you’ve said, attitudes you’ve had, or things you’ve thought. When I’ve admitted my sins to God, the next time I’m tempted, it’s easier to resist. 

  4. Read scripture. Spend some time reading God’s word. I like to have a section of scripture picked out before I get started. Once, when Katie and I had some big decisions in front of us, I read the book of Acts looking specifically for how Jesus’ earliest followers made decisions.

  5. Pray for those you watch over. Pray for the people that God has put in your care. This could be your children, your spouse, or the people at work you oversee. I’m often praying for several different situations. But, I always pray for Katie, Eden, and Graceann.

  6. Pray for the lost. Pray for the people, by name, that you know who aren’t committed followers of Jesus. Pray for those who are “lost” in your neighborhood, in your workplace, and in your city. 

  7. Seek your needs. Are you trying to make a decision? Ask God to show you what to do. Do you want him to open a door? Ask him. For me, seeking my needs is given it’s proper place after I’ve praised, confessed, and prayed for others.

  8. Thank God for blessings. Acknowledge the good things that God has done in your life. As things come to my mind, I simply mention them to God.

  9. Sing from the heart. This may seem kind of strange. It did to me at first. But, I’ve come to enjoy it. Sometimes I’ll listen to worship music and sing along. But, I have to be careful because I don’t want to get distracted looking for music on my phone.

  10. Reflect on scripture. This is the time to take one or two verses and dwell on them. I will usually memorize a verse or two. 

  11. Look for answers from God. This is another time of silence and reflection. You’re simply giving space to think, process, and allow God to lead you. This is a good time for me to reflect. There may be things I haven’t been sensitive to because of the busyness of life.

  12. Praise God. The whole time is bookended with praise. This has always seemed appropriate to me. I often praise God for the things that have surfaced during this time of prayer. 


click to download a .pdf

I hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me. Have you come across anything that’s helped you to grow in prayer? If so, I’d love to learn about it.

  7 comments for “How to Pray…& Not Fall Asleep like Peter, James, & John [Infographic]

  1. Cyndi
    April 20, 2015 at 10:13 am

    This is gold! Thank you!

    • April 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

      You’re welcome! Someone shared it with me so I wanted to share it, too!

  2. Mandy (Gilmore) Tramel
    October 17, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Neil this is awesome. I’m a new believer and developing my relationship with Christ and my mind often wonders when I try to pray thanks for this I needed it!

    • October 17, 2015 at 10:44 am

      Thanks, Mandy! It’s great to hear from you. I hope you’re doing well. And, I hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me. God bless!

  3. Erin Wagner
    December 30, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Hey Neil!

    This is something I have been looking for for a long time. I really didn’t know what I was looking for in learning how to pray, but I knew it would hit me when I found it. I’ve read, or began reading and quit, some books and things that just lost me. I did get some good pieces from them, but this is to the point and just what I was seeking.

    • Neil
      December 31, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Hey, Erin! It’s great to hear from you! And, I’m glad this helped. It’s really helped me a lot! Hope you have a great New Year’s!

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