Developing a Personal Prayer Life

Learning to pray, for me, was like learning to play golf. At first it felt really awkward. I thought everybody on the course was staring at me (and judging my performance). And it was very intimidating when I compared myself to all the great golfers I knew. But eventually I got comfortable playing golf with my friends.

Quite by accident I discovered that in golf every player has a unique swing. But there are fundamentals required in learning to hit the ball well. By practicing the fundamentals, you can develop a more consistent swing and become a competent golfer. Mastering the basics helps you hit the ball well. Confidently. Consistently. Routinely.

I also learned that before you swing the club, you need to have a proper “set-up for success.” The position of your feet, the bend of your arms, and your weight being distributed equally – are all very important. When you have a proper set-up, it’s much easier to make a proper swing.

The same is true of developing a consistent prayer life. Prayer doesn’t have to be awkward, self-conscious, or intimidating. But learning to pray requires mastering the basics and developing a proper set-up. You’ll never pray well without understanding what prayer is, why you should pray, how to pray, and what to pray for.

What is prayer? Henrietta Mears, the woman who made a deep and lasting impression on men like Billy Graham (The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) and Bill Bright (Campus Crusade for Christ), is credited with the following quote:  “Prayer is a simple conversation with a loving Father.”

Prayer is what brings you closer to God. The closer you get to God the better He looks to you. And when you get closer to God you want to be more like Him and His Son Jesus Christ.

Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope. Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. Prayer is God’s central avenue of transforming your life.

Prayer is the practice of the presence of God. The Bible says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8 – NASB). The best way I’ve discovered to do that is through prayer.

Why pray? We pray because Jesus tells us to pray. Luke relates to us that Jesus taught His disciples “…that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1 – NASB).

Positioning yourself for success in prayer means allowing God  to give you His point of view. God answer prayers, and He changes things through prayer. But the thing that prayer changes most is you. Because prayer does something supernatural inside you. It gives you God’s perspective on life while changing you in the process.

How Do I Pray? As a young disciple of Jesus Christ I learned a way to pray that has stayed with me throughout the years. It is an acronym, a mnemonic device, essentially a tool to help you remember how to pray anywhere, at any time. It’s represented by the letters A-C-T-S. Each letter stands for a specific aspect of prayer, arranged in a very natural order.

Adoration (worship of God). Adoration toward God reminds us of the His limitlessness ability and wisdom. Beginning your personal prayer time with worship and adoration toward God puts Him first in your thoughts where He belongs. It makes your problems, concerns, and needs come into proper perspective.

Confession (admission of specific sins). The closer you get to God, the more you become aware of your own sinfulness. Your sin – conscious and unconscious – distances you from God. Confession of your sin takes away the barriers between you and God. It clears the channels of communication between Him and you (1 John 1:9 – NIV; Matthew 6:12 – NLT).

Thanksgiving (gratitude for God’s blessing). Thanksgiving should always follow confession. You should be thankful that God has forgiven you. We don’t give thanks because everything is going well in your life or because you’re in a good mood. You should give thanks because God deserves your praise. When you give Him thanks you’re expressing gratitude for what you have. It keeps your focus from drifting to what you don’t have.

Supplication (specific requests for yourself and others). Supplication means “to ask humbly and earnestly.” If you’re faithful in the previous three prayer steps, this last step will not be just you asking God for “stuff.” It will include asking God to meet your needs and requests, but also to motivate you to pray for others and their needs and requests. And if you pray according to God’s will-He will answer (1 John 5:14 – NASB).

What Should I Pray For? Here’s a prayer list you can take with you wherever you go. I call it the “five-finger prayer list.” Hold your right hand in front of you, palm out. Look at it and then notice the following:

  • Your thumb is the closest finger to you on your hand. Let it represent the people closest to you, those you live and work with. Your immediate family, your friends, and your coworkers. Pray for them!
  • Your pointer finger represents the people to whom you’re pointing the way to Jesus Christ. It could be anyone you’re praying for to get to know Jesus like you do. Pray for them!
  • Your middle finger is the most prominent finger on your hand. It represents the people who are the leaders in your life – your mentors, your teachers, your pastors. Pray for them!
  • Your ring finger is the weakest finger on your hand. Pray for those you know who are “weak.” People who are sick or hurting or dying. The emotionally wounded and struggling people in your life. Never forget to pray for them!
  • Your pinky finger represents you. You need to pray for your own needs, too.

You can use the “Five-Finger Prayer List” on your commute to work or while you’re exercising – any time. And it stays with you wherever you go.

When Do I Pray? We’ve already seen in Luke that Jesus taught his disciples to be people who “…should always pray…” (Luke 18:1 – NASB). The Apostle Paul wrote that we should “…pray without ceasing…” (2 Thessalonians 5:17 – NASB). In other words – pray all the time!

Pray “flash prayers” on the spur of the moment. Pray “arrow prayers” aimed at the situation you are dealing with right now – don’t wait for the right “feeling.” Pray pain-filled, heartfelt, desperate prayers. God knows your struggles. Have times of extended prayer – where you can take some uninterrupted time to be alone with God to “soak” in prayer. To pray in these ways is to “…pray without ceasing.” God hears your prayers whenever and wherever you offer them.

Make regular, routine prayer a part of your life. Let it be a “holy habit.”

Read more about Developing a Personal Prayer Life in my book Every Man Jack available on Amazon( and Westbow Press (, and wherever books are sold. 

Passing the Baton

“Every man is born twice. Once when his mother gives birth. The second time is when his father dies.” – Anonymous

I am a blessed man.

Ten days ago my father passed away. He was 93 years old. He lived a long and healthy life. He was in control of his mental and physical faculties until the end. He simply took a nap one afternoon and woke up in heaven. What a way to go!

As a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ, I am confident that my dad is in the presence of God. He is walking hand in hand with my mom on the “streets of gold” (Revelation 21:21). I look forward to seeing him again one day. That’s what we followers of Jesus Christ call the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).

My dad set a good example of how to consistently live out one’s faith in Jesus Christ. He left a legacy of integrity and an example that all of his children, grandchildren and those he mentored would be proud to emulate. He was the epitome of Proverbs 20:7: “A righteous man who walks in his integrity – How blessed are his sons [and daughters] after him.”

To “walk” in integrity means to be a sincere, honest, and truthful person. That was my dad. What you saw in him was what you got. He never tried to be someone he wasn’t. He was the real deal. Genuine. Guileless. Sincere. And he was also an honest man. In fact, he was even honest when it cost him. If he made a promise and he later found out it was not to his advantage to follow through on that promise – he did it anyway. His word was his bond. As Psalm 15 says he was willing to “swear to his own hurt.” He kept his word even when it cost him. And my dad was also a man of truth. He loved the truth – and was never at a loss for words to tell it. Sincere. Honest. Truthful. That was my dad. And I loved him for it.

My prayer has been for a long time now that my example would bless my children and grandchildren and those I mentor. I want that to be my legacy – just like it was for my father. And when I lay on my death bed, I want to be able to hear my children say: “We are blessed because we had a dad who was a man of integrity.”

“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth; Favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1).

Thanks for your example of integrity, dad. Love you “Pops”! Celebrate well in the presence of our God. Looking forward to seeing you and mom again and sharing in that “glorious, inexpressible joy” you are reveling in together (1 Peter 8:1 – NLT).

Read more about Living a Godly Life in my book Every Man Jack available on Amazon( and Westbow Press (, and wherever books are sold. 

Hot Heads & Cold Hearts

We live in contentious socio-political times. Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter… Antifa vs. White Supremacy…Masks vs. No Masks… Hard Left vs. Hard Right. We’re divided by identify politics. There seems to be no middle ground on which to stand. As a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, what are we supposed to do? How do I keep from falling short of displaying the grace of God in my life? What must I do to keep from letting a “root of bitterness” grow in my life and cause “…trouble, and by it become defiled…” (Hebrews 12:15)? What about the admonition of the Apostle Paul to “…to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people” (Titus 1:3)?

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I’m cognizant of what my Master and His Word teaches about keeping my heart free from bitterness and contention – how not to be a hot head with a cold heart. Jesus knew that contentious days like the ones we live in would come: “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold” (Matthew 24:12 – NASB). Jesus spoke these words in the middle of his “end times discourse” in response to his disciples’ question: “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:2 – NASB). In 30 AD Jesus saw what was coming to 2020 AD.

As a young pastor, I worked alongside an older, wiser brother from the Midwest. I loved his down home way of expressing truth. He who once told me: “Daniel, as you lead God’s people never forget to guard your heart – and keep your backside covered!” Good advice, I later came to realize, as I navigated my way through a four decades long pastoral career.

Jesus told us four things to do in order to “guard” our hearts (and keep your back sides covered) as we await his return. If we act on them, they will keep our heads cool and our hearts warm toward people whose perspective on life differs drastically from our own – regardless of how they respond to us.

BE READY “You too, be ready; because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think He will” (Luke 12:40 – NASB). That means to be ready personally. If you haven’t already done it, come to Jesus today and confess your sin. Ask him to forgive you. Accept his forgiveness and be “born again.” Eternal life will begin for you the moment you do that. And “be ready” means to help as many other people as you can to be ready, too. Our mission on this planet is to love God and love people by populating heaven and depopulating hell. Be prepared and help others be prepared for the return of the “righteous Judge” (2 Timothy 4:8 – NASB).

STAY ALERT…“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming (Matt. 24:42 – NASB). Once you’ve come to Jesus and decide to become one of his followers – don’t fall asleep spiritually. But stay alert to the “signs of the times.” Be spiritually vigilant in prayer for yourself and for others – especially other Christians. And when life looks like it’s all “going to hell on roller skate” – do what you can to help and then, pray some more. God gives us his perspective through prayer. Stay alert.

KEEP BUSY“A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his own slaves and gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business with this money until I come back’ (Luke 19:13 – NASB). Jesus used this parable to teach his disciples to never stop being engaged in “kingdom business.” Being used by God to build his kingdom on earth – as it is in heaven – is what we exist for. Our purpose, in addition to loving God and loving people, is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Loving and leading people into becoming Jesus’ wholehearted followers, is our lifeblood. Keep busy at it.

LOOK UPBut when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28 – NASB). In the context of this passage Jesus is teaching about the end of time and “thing to come” just before his return to earth. He speaks in very somber terms of nations going to war…earthquakes, plagues, and famines…and weather patterns gone mad. He tells of fellow Christians being persecuted for their faith (some becoming martyrs)…and the nation of Israel suffering great “distress” and “wrath.” He warns of people “…fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:26 – NASB). And then – at the end of all his somber words of warning – he says: “…straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In other words: “Look up…Keep your head up…because I am coming back to take you into eternity to give you your reward!”

Be ready…Stay alert…Keep busy…and…Look up…because the “Righteous Judge” is coming!

“Lord, thank you for saving us from ourselves and giving us eternal life. Thank you for the discernment to know the signs of your return. Thank you for the assignment you’ve given us to make disciples for you and your kingdom here on earth. And thank you for the confidence to keep our heads up when living life for you appears impossible. Maranatha! ‘Come quickly, Lord Jesus’!”

Read more about Living a Godly Life in my book Every Man Jack available on Amazon( and Westbow Press (, and wherever books are sold. 

Holiday Stress

The Holiday Season is upon us. The five week run from Thanksgiving to New Years Day is America’s annual stress and cholesterol festival. Smithsonian magazine calls our generation the “Age of Anxiety.”  You can actually feel the stress ramping up!

We’re a society in need of stress relief – especially during the Holidays. So, here’s three stress relievers found in the “Mental Health” chapter of the Bible in Philippians 4:6-7 (TLB).

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”  

The first stress-reliever is WORRY ABOUT NOTHING.

In Philippians 4:6 the apostle Paul says: “Don’t worry about anything…”  Worry and anxiety are a major source of stress. That same Smithsonian article reported that there are “macro worries” & “micro worries” that everybody on the planet worries about.

“Macro worries” are anxiety about global warming or the earth being stuck by an asteroid. Worries about earthquakes and tornadoes and hurricanes and floods. Worry about gang violence and violent political unrest. Fear that our kids could be assaulted at gun point by someone at school or even just walking down the street…these are all “macro worries.

And then there are “micro worries.” These are personal worries like anxiety about our health or our family’s health or the security of our job or the quality of our relationships or our stock market investments.

“Micro worries” & “micro worries” – we all have them.

Let me give you a definition for worry: “Worry is assuming responsibility that God never intended for me to have.” Worry is playing God and trying to control the uncontrollable. Worry really is worthless – because it can’t change the past or control the future. It only messes us up right now – in the present. Worry is an incredible waste of energy & creativity. It’s “stewing without doing.”

The Bible agrees: “Don’t worry about anything.”

Now, I know that’s a hard command to obey. It’s hard to obey because some of us are born worriers. We have the ability to “find a problem in every solution.” We always seem to look at the negative. But Jesus commanded us in Matthew 6:34 (NASB): “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own.”

For many of us worry is our “default.” It’s something we learn along the way in life as we depend less and less on God and more and more on ourselves. It takes practice to get good at worrying. But Jesus is saying that if worry can be learned, then it can also be unlearned.                             

SO HERE’S AN INSIGHT FOR YOU: What Jesus and Paul are saying is that in order to relieve stress you have to live one day at a time. And that’s not idle advice or flippantly spoken words. Jesus uttered those words even though he knew he was going to be crucified on a cross for the sins of mankind. Paul was in prison waiting to be executed when he wrote Philippians. They both had opportunity to let worry, anxiety, and fear control their lives – but they choose to worry about nothing.

The second stress-reliever is to PRAY ABOUT ANYTHING.

Whenever God tells us to eliminate something from our lives (worry, anxiety, fear), He always has something better for us (prayer). He always replaces a negative with a positive – the problem we face with a promise he’s made.

Philippians 4:6 continues: “…pray about everything; tell God your needs…” Or as the NASB version puts it: “…but in everything by prayer and supplication…let your requests be known to God.”   

The apostle Paul is saying, don’t worry or panic – pray! When we stop worrying we have time to pray. If, when we’re tempted to say “I don’t have time to pray,” we would spend our time praying instead of worrying, we’d have a whole lot less to worry about. A Jamaican proverb underscores the Biblical relationship between prayer and worry. It says: “If you’re going to pray, don’t worry. If you’re going to worry, don’t pray.”

The Bible is saying that we should pray about anything. Some people think that God is only interested in us praying about what we consider “spiritual” things. But God is interested in everything in your life. He also tells us to use “supplication” or “petition.” That means ask God for a specific, detailed request. Get specific with God. Tell Him exactly what you want and what you need. Don’t pray general, vague prayers. Be specific. Ask him to fulfill his promises to you!

Prayer is a tremendous safety valve for the release of the pressure of stress. So, unload all your worries on God. He’s big enough to handle all the details in your life. He can handle anything you give Him.

THE INSIGHT HERE IS:  There’s no problem that’s too big for God’s power or too small for His concern. 

Here’s the third stress-reliever: GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING.

Philippians 4:6 (NASB) says: “… in everything … with thanksgiving …” Always approach God with a thankful heart. In other words, “Don’t forget to thank him for his answers to your prayers.” One of the healthiest human emotions is gratitude – having a grateful and thankful heart. Being thankful actually increases your body’s immune system. There’s a physical benefit to expressing gratitude. By contrast, ungrateful people tend to be unhappy people. Nothing ever satisfies them.

Here’s an idea: If you’re stressed or anxious, make a list of twenty things you know you can be grateful for. Because when you’re grateful, it gets the focus off your problems and back on to the benefits in your life. We have so much to be grateful for. So develop an attitude of gratitude and watch the stress level in your life go down. It gets your eyes off the problem and on to the things you can be grateful for.

THE INSIGHT HERE IS: There is always something to be grateful for.

So, what’s the result of practicing these stress-relievers? It’s found in Philippians 4:7: “If you do this you will experience God’s peace which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your heart quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” v. 7 (TLB). That’s a promise of guaranteed peace of mind!

People are looking everywhere for peace of mind. They try pills, herbs, booze, therapy, and stress reduction seminars. They listen to podcasts and buy books – anything to give them just a little peace of mind. To paraphrase the apostle Paul here: “God’s peace is a gift to you. It is a gift that can’t be explained, duplicated, fabricated, or understood. It’s a gift from God that just comes over your life when you follow these stress relievers.”

And how do we maintain that kind of peace of mind? “.. as you trust in Christ Jesus.” According to the Bible, God made us to know him. Nobody’s here on this planet by accident. He made us for a purpose. The starting point of that purpose is to understand that he made us for a relationship with him. He wants us to know him. And when we know him there’s a sense of peace that comes into our lives. Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

This passage in Philippians 4 ends by saying: “His peace will keep your thoughts…”  The word “keep” in Greek is a military term. It means “a sentry guard, a garrison, or a detachment of soldiers.”

That’s the way God will guard your mind and heart when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and trust Him moment by moment. You worry about nothing. You pray about anything. And you thank God in everything. Then God will put a garrison, a sentry guard, around your heart.  And when worry comes knocking at the door He will protect you with His peace.

Have a stress-free Holiday Season!

Read more about Living a Godly Life in my book Every Man Jack available on Amazon( and Westbow Press (, and wherever books are sold. 

Welcome to My Blog Page

Welcome. My name is Daniel L. Clubb, author of Every Man Jack. I’m so happy to have you as a visitor to my blog about my new book. This project is very special to me, and I hope to share some of that excitement with you here.  I’ll be using this blog to interact with you about Every Man Jack, expanding on some of the topics in it and posting on some of the ideas related to my book. This is a great place for you to get to know me, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you, too. What did you think of Every Man Jack? What questions do you have for me? How do you relate to my book?

I’ll be returning here frequently with new posts and responses to feedback from you. Until next time, tell me a little bit about yourself.

If you wish to leave a message to the author, add your comments or questions here. Thank you!