** This series of posts is designed to help Super Summer Students transition back into normal life after a glorious week. These posts should be helpful to any Christian wanting to grow and work through basic issues of Christian living. **
Prayer can be daunting for any Christian. We read stories of super-saints from the past who seem to pray for hours per day, and we wonder what it is about our Christian lives that make us so messed up. We try to pray and we get sleepy, our minds wander, or we just can’t seem to come up with something to say. What is our problem?
I would say that it is likely that the main sources of our problems when it comes to prayer will fall into one of two categories: distractions and failure to plan.
In the way of distractions, we simply will not pray well at all if we are constantly hearing or seeing things that grab our attention. If you are going to pray, you simply cannot be texting, checking email, or listening to a song with catchy lyrics. If you are going to pray, you need to be able to get yourself in a place that allows you to focus. OF course, you can pray while you are riding in a car or walking down the street, but the most focused prayers are going to be in a quiet place where no one is crying out for your attention.
You will also pray better if you plan what you will pray about. Having a solid list of things to pray is crucial. Note, by the way, that I say to have things to pray, not to ask for. Not all of praying is asking God to give you this and heal that. Prayer is full of praise and declaration of the greatness of God too.
Pray with purpose and pray with Scripture. You will pray much better if your prayer time is preceded by a look into the word of God. Often people will tell you to listen while you pray. I would caution you to be careful here, as you can discourage yourself by looking for a mystical voice of God as you are praying. I would urge you to pray briefly, read God’s word, and hear from the Lord in his perfectly-clear revelation. Then pray again, taking a longer time, in response to what God revealed in his word.
I’ll offer you two models for how to pray. The first is the ACTS model. This has been used by saints for generations. Then, in the next post, I will show you an even older and more biblical model or way you can approach God in prayer.
The A.C.T.S. Model
As you prepare to pray through this model, remember that each letter stands for a category of prayer. If you can come up with five minutes worth of things to pray in these four categories, you will be praying for 20 minutes without breaking a sweat.
A – Adoration means to praise God. Open your prayer and study by telling God how great he is for who he is. Be careful here to be God-focused. Shine all the light of glory on the Lord who is worthy.
C – Confession means to agree with God about your sin. When you see sin in your life, tell God and begin to turn from that sin as you ask him to help and forgive you.
T – Thanksgiving means just what it says, giving thanks. Not only do we praise God for God’s attributes, we also thank God for the kindnesses that he has shown us. Take time to tell God how grateful you are for the things he has done in your life.
S – Supplication means to make a request. Pray asking God to make a difference in areas of need in your life and in the lives of others. This is where you might ask God to bless the Isalt Bulgaria team or to give you the chance to share the gospel with someone. You can pray through the spheres of relationships that you have starting with your own life, your family, your friends, your schoolmates, your city government, your state government, your national government, and the lost world.
Honestly, you can and will want to tweak each of these areas to best fit your life and thought process. But if you cover the 4 categories above, you will be praying with more focus and more fervor before long. This will be a good help to any Christian quiet time, especially for those of us who struggle to pray effectively.
Tomorrow, we will look at the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 as another way to pray through categories in a helpful and very biblical way.