Ways to Pray: Prayer Circles

by Emily Vanden Heuvel

Visual Tool

Sometimes I have difficulty knowing where to start when life’s busy schedule distracts me from prayer. Recently, I learned a visual tool that has helped me focus my prayer time when I’m feeling stressed or scattered: concentric circles.

Moving Outward

In his Desiring God blog, Pastor John Piper shared how he uses a model of concentric circles to guide his prayer. The smallest, inner circle represents his own soul. The largest, outer circle represents God’s entire world. He starts by praying for the smallest circle and then incrementally moves outward, praying for each circle along the way. He explains:

I pray for my own soul first. Not because I am more deserving than others, but because if God doesn’t awaken and strengthen and humble and fill my own soul, then I can’t pray for anybody else’s. So I plead with the Lord every morning for my own soul’s perseverance and purification and power.

Concentric circles

Start by praying for yourself as you worship God and confess your sins. After this first circle, pray for each of your family members by name; pray for their safety and that they will seek after God’s heart. In the next circle, pray for your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Pray for their needs and that you will have many opportunities to share Jesus’ love with them. Next, pray for your spiritual leaders, church, missionaries, political leaders, and so on

Visualize as many concentric circles as you feel led. It may be helpful to create prayer circles on a sheet of paper and to write down who you are praying for and what circle they belong in.

We hope that the prayer circles approach will be a guide that helps you focus and order your prayers as you grow deeper in your love for God and his people.

Did you find this article helpful? We’ve put together a short ebook called “How Do I Pray?”, which introduces six ways to reinvigorate your prayer life. Download it free right here.