How’s your prayer life? I’ll admit mine could be better. My goal has always been to spend time in prayer in the morning and then continue to pray throughout the day. I’ve been consistent in spending time in the Word every morning, but I’m finding I spend so much time reading the Bible, I run out of time to pray. And the thought of getting up earlier than 5:00 really doesn’t appeal to me at all.
So what’s a woman to do? Today I’m kicking off a month-long series to help you spring clean your prayer life. I’m going to explore some different aspects of prayer and offer some tips that will help you (and me) be more consistent in talking with God.
Today, though, we’re just going to talk about prayer in general.
What is Prayer?
Prayer is essentially talking with God. Just as you’d talk to a friend or a wise counselor, you can talk to God about anything. Do you have a problem? Tell God! Are you happy about something? Praise God!
Like any relationship, our relationship with God is better when we consistently talk things over with Him. Prayer isn’t just a one off thing we do every day and then check off our list. Relationships don’t work like that.
Have you ever had a good friend that you call whenever something exciting happens to you? Or do you pour your heart out to your husband when you are sad? That’s how our relationship with God should be. We should look forward to communicating with Him, and we should communicate with Him often.
An Acronym for Prayer
Many of you may have learned the ACTS acronym for prayer long ago. I first memorized it in elementary school, and I still use it in those times I can’t remember what I want to pray about (like when I’m praying first thing in the morning).
A is for Adoration. Prayer should include a time of recognizing God for who He is: God and Creator of the universe. For me, adoration is a time of taking time to reflect on God’s holiness, power, wisdom, omnipotence…all the thinks that make God, well, God.
This is a time for me to be amazed at who God is. If you’re stuck for things to praise God about, try to keep a running list of Bible verses that describe who God is. Pray those verses back to God. The Psalms contain plenty of words that express adoration for God.
C is for Confession. Confession is an important part of a healthy prayer life. Just like confession and reconciliation are important in a human relationship, they are important in maintaining a right relationship with God.
I usually begin my confession by asking God to bring to mind any sins and wrong attitudes I’ve struggled with recently. It seems the list is never short! I confess my sins to the Lord, ask for HIs forgiveness, and try to think of a few verses that will help me grow in right behavior and attitudes.
T is for Thanksgiving. We all teach our children to say “thank you” when they receive gifts. In the same way, we should also thank God when he gives us good things. Those good things can range from a great day of homeschooling to the chance to take an afternoon nap to something useful you’re learning through a trial.
Thanking God for things in my life helps me to remember that all good things come from Him. It helps me remember that I deserve nothing, yet He gives me so much.
S is for Supplication. Supplication means “the act of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.” It is a time to ask for God’s help for others and yourself. I almost never have trouble with the supplication part of prayer. I think that’s true of most people.
Does every single prayer need to include each of these aspects of prayer? No. But a healthy prayer life will involve adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication, even if all don’t take place in the same prayer. Again, prayer is a conversation, and a conversation with a friend wouldn’t be limited to a list of requests. A conversation with God should include a lot more than requests for His help.
One More Thing…Listen!
Communication is not a one way street. We need to take time to listen to God. He may not speak to us audibly, but He often prompts us to act, to pray for others, or to examine ourselves if we slow down enough to listen to those promptings.
Like any skill, the more we practice listening to God the more aware we will be when He speaks to us. And the more we recognize his voice, the more prayer feels like the conversation it is, rather than us rattling off a list of requests to an invisible God. Take time to listen.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 ESV
Next Monday we’ll take a look at using a prayer journal to help organize our prayer lives.
How is your prayer life? Do you set aside time for prayer? Pray throughout the day? Keep a prayer journal? Do tell!