Communicating with God
How would you define prayer? Pick the answer that most closely represents your thoughts. Prayer is- a liturgical formality to be endured in church on Sunday mornings - a cry for help when a crisis strikes (“Help! My husband needs a job and my teenager’s doing drugs! Do something, quick!”) – a tradition, like the bedtime prayer many youngsters repeat: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.” - honest communication with God as a result of a personal relationship with Him
The latter definition receives my vote. Mother Theresa would agree. She defined prayer as union with God, “a union as vital as that of the vine and the branches, which is the illustration Jesus gives in the Gospel of John. We need prayer. We need that union to produce good fruit.”
In other words, prayer is a life-giving connection between God and those who love Him. Just as the vine and the branches must be connected in order to produce grapes, so we must maintain communication with God if our lives are to accomplish the purpose He has planned for us.
Prayer – communicating with God – is a skill that can be learned with time and practice. Sometimes it’s helpful to follow a template such as ACTS. By spending a few minutes in each of the four sections, we learn vital elements of effective prayer and our minds stay focused.
A – ADORATION – God wants us to adore Him for who He is. Why? Because acknowledging His character brings hope and peace. He’s bigger than any problem we face. He’s wiser than the world’s greatest counsellor. He’s able to provide everything we need. Adoring Him strengthens our faith and renews our courage. (Psalm 150:6)
C – CONFESSION – Sin is like a concrete wall between God and us. If we have sin in our hearts (this includes wrong attitudes such as bitterness, gossip, lust, envy), He won’t hear us. Therefore, we must ask Him to forgive our sins. He has promised to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
T – THANKSGIVING – While adoration focuses on who God is, thanksgiving expresses gratitude for His kindness and love. It acknowledges His deeds and the answers to prayer we’ve already received. (1 Thess. 5:18)
S – SUPPLICATION – Now it’s time to give God our specific requests. We don’t have to restrain ourselves here – He already knows our thoughts! (Phil. 4:6)
If I were to follow the ACTS template, here’s how it might sound:
“Father, I praise You for being the all-powerful God. Your mighty hand created the heavens and the earth. Even the stars are named! Nothing is too difficult for You. “Because You are a holy God, I confess my sins to You. Forgive me for criticizing my husband to my friends. Forgive me for being jealous of Suzy’s career success. Cleanse me from all sin and wash me whiter than snow. “Thank you for forgiveness. And thank you for being a faithful provider for my family. Thank you for the warm house, nutritious food, and for a good education for my children. Thank you for friends, for freedom, and for giving me opportunities to show Your love to those less fortunate. “Father, I pray for those families affected by the tsunami, the hurricanes, and the earthquake in Asia. Please supply their need for food and shelter. Comfort them in their sorrow. Wrap your arms around them and help them understand that You love them. Show me how I can help in practical ways. And open my eyes to recognize those around me who are hurting. Make me an instrument of Your peace and love to them. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Does that example help? The specifics will vary with circumstances, but following the general pattern helps us remain attentive and focused as we pray.
Enjoy your prayer journey! Remember, it’s not a drudgery. It’s a joy-filled conversation with the living God who wants a vibrant relationship with you!