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The one hour prayer experiment

It seems that if you like to pray, you fit into one of two categories. Either you prefer to take blocks of time to pray, or you tend to pray through your day. Scripture tells us to do both, but finding a block of time to pray in our hectic society requires discipline. If you’re already too …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
It seems that if you like to pray, you fit into one of two categories. Either you prefer to take blocks of time to pray, or you tend to pray through your day. Scripture tells us to do both, but finding a block of time to pray in our hectic society requires discipline. If you’re already too busy, what do you do?
At the start of AIM’s ministry, Dick Eastman and his prayer ministry had a profound impact on me. Through his books, he taught me to pray an hour a day.
Recently my daughter Emily found an Eastman book on praying for an hour on her own and has been using it.

The premise behind it is based on the scene at the end of his life where Jesus rebukes his disciples because they couldn’t tarry with him in prayer just one hour. Of course we want to pray in the Spirit at all times. But he’s also looking for more focused times from us as well.

I threw it out to some disciples and friends of mine a few days ago. 22 of them wrote back and said they were game. So, we’ve just started.
If you’d like to join us in our one-hour prayer experiment, please let me know. Try it for a week and then check back in with me. I’ve sent out a few encouraging emails and people have emailed back with reports. Here’s a link to a link to a 10-page paper about praying an hour that may help you get going.* Eastman divides an hour into 12 five-minute blocks.  It may be too structured for you (it is for me), but it at least gets you started moving in the right direction. If you’re ambivalent about committing this much time to God, I strongly recommend you do it.

Discipline is hard and the structure it requires can feel unnatural.  Somehow watches seem incompatible with prayer times.  Muslims pray five times a day.  I’m not clear on if many of them pray more than words.  But at least there is the opportunity for the heart to open up and their heart to cry out.

On my first day, I began my prayer time with a song.  I journaled a bit, read something out of the Bible and then I was seized by this thought that I sensed was God saying: “our lives are like a story.” I started to write about that and before I knew it, had a blog.

I don’t know what to think about interrupting prayer to write a blog.  Is it distraction or is it part of the prayer time?  Yes to both. Look – spending extended time with God can lead you in a lot of different directions. I’m just trying to listen to God’s voice and follow his lead.  For me, it’s more important to carve out the time in my schedule than it is to stick to a plan about how to fill it.**
*Go halfway down the page to “English” and click on the link “Hour that changes the world.” A pdf file will pop up.
**Some links that may help you here and here. For a list of my posts on prayer, go here. And for posts on listening prayer, go here.

Comments (15)

  • I’m interested. Tried to follow the link to understand the twelve 5 minute structure but couldn’t follow. Can you send me the URL?

  • Wow Seth, we could not be dealing with issues more similar. I am working with writing on practical ways to have an intimate relationship with a Holy God.

    I’d love to work on this with you all.

    Just a short comment to your query about distractions. I’m of the opinion that whatever we do that is wholeheartedly dedicated to Him is transformed from “work” to worship. Look at a study of the two Hebrew words “avodah” and “terumah.” in some places the first is translated to mean toil or slave labor. In others it is given the meaning service. However, amazingly this same word is translated as worship as well. The other word is Hebrew for offering. If you give this terumah to God it matters not what it is. The important issue is the condition of your heart.

    Freeing huh?

  • Things that are helping me:

    1) Ask God to direct this time. Specifically, what time, the conditions, the methods. I find that doing the same thing, the same way, the same time everyday becomes rote and dead for me. One day, I was on a treadmill, one day…in a pool!

    2) Group your prayers by categories (let God inspire). One day it was people groups (my small group, my friends, my family, my expression of the Body)…today it was by experiences (people who are struggling in their marriage, people who are in ministry trying to balance that and freedom in Christ, etc).

    3) Don’t let distractions sidetrack you. Stay on track, but also be open to letting them redirect you.

    4) Let the Spirit guide your prayers. Don’t assume you know how to pray for something based on your prejudices.

    5) Don’t let it become legalistic! If it becomes a chore, a checklist item or a prideful thing, let it go. If you’re watching the clock, you’re missing the point.

    6) ENJOY!

  • I would like to join this. i don’t have the book so I’ll try to get it this weekend and start asap!

  • Sounds awesome… I love what Mary said above about things turned to worship too. I’ve not heard the Hebrew words before so thank you for posting that – but I’d long thought that way about anything we do when we consciously do it to God’s glory. Wasn’t it Martin Luther who talked about cleaning toilets, dishes, etc. – that it all becomes worship when executed as unto Him? Count me in on the prayer. I have been feeling the need to pray and fast more deliberately again about some things – this is just another confirmation!

  • Thanks Seth for this and I’ll be part of this endeavor. Your post reminded me of the years when we attended Church on the Rock and Larry Lea had just published the book “Could You Not Tarry One Hour?” That was a reawakening in the eighties to the power of prayer and at one point we had over 1200 people meeting at 6:00 AM every morning to invoke God. We can’t hunger for God when we are stuffed full of our own agendas. He discerns that far more quickly than we realize and that is why some prayers are simply palaver then we complain about no answers. Unresolved conflicts, secret sin, attitudes of the heart, maligning behavior and a host of other small foxes spoiling the grapevines become an impenetrable shield preventing even earnest prayers from lifting up anywhere. We are a flippant culture and Jesus is anything but. Shabat Shalom…

  • Too busy…to pray? to spend time with my mom who is in failing health? to encourage my daughter while she practices the piano? to drop everything to go to a court hearing with a friend? to abandon whatever may be left of my own agenda? for too long the answer was yes, although I liked to pretend it wasn’t the case.

    No more.

    Count me in.

  • I came across this post at the perfect time….cos all I really need now is more closure with God…….by his grace I will join in this race.I only ask for his grace

  • This blog will change many lives. I already bought the book ‘The hour that changes the world’ and it will change Eswatini

  • You not only have a pulse on the times, but you have your face to the wind, my friend!
    The Wind of the Holy Spirit!
    Just last week, I listened to a cassette tape by the inimitable Fulton J. Sheen called One Hour, on this very theme.
    In this case, he is calling Catholics to fulfill the request of Jesus to spend “one hour with me” by praying an hour before the Blessed Sacrament.
    For those who are not Catholic and unfamiliar, this takes place in a chapel or church where a place is set aside specifically for silent prayer.
    Pope John Paul and Mother Teresa, two of the greatest saints of the 20th century, both spent at least an hour a day in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
    Both claimed it was the source of their daily power and strength.
    So, I’m listening to this tape and hearing the Lord call me to this hour each day!
    We’re all on the same wave-length, friend!
    This can not help but create a revolution and reverberation of prayer that will circle the world.
    Your post tonight reminds me and I shall follow through.
    Right on!

  • I joined the movement this week and I have been hearing Gods voice a lot!

    first, I would like to tell you that it was all grand at first but truthfully it was really harsh. I realized that I don’t give God enough time during my day. I am categorized under those who pray throughout the entire day. Yes I would take time out of my day to pray, but I have come to realize that its not enough time. I feel God calling me to do more!

    Seth thank you for starting this movement and calling on us to do more for the beautiful God we serve. I feel myself drawing closer already.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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