I’m not talking about at the dinner table, or once in awhile when you think of it, or when something really hard is happening in life, but do you pray often, do you pray honestly, do you pray with focus?
This is a challenge I think we receive a lot in the Christian community. “Pray about it” we are told. If you are having a bad day, people say “I’ll pray for you.” It’s kind of a word that is thrown around a lot, to be honest. So why don’t we do it more? Why is is not a main focus of most Christians’ lives?
There are a lot of reasons prayer is not as much of a priority in the lives of believers, but before we can deal with our individual issues, we need to know HOW to pray. Isn’t prayer just talking to God? Yes, of course, but when we set aside time to sit down and speak to our Maker for a while, prayer is so much more than bringing our problems to Him. How do we know this? Because God himself gave us an example of how to pray. Check it out:
Matthew 6:9-13 says, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
Jesus here is talking to his disciples. They asked him how to pray, and this is the answer he gave them. Now this doesn’t mean we just recite this over and over, but it is a fantastic example of how to pray - given by God himself. Jesus’ short prayer can be broken down into easily understandable parts: adoration, thanksgiving, confession, and supplication.
Let’s break these down quickly.
Adoration is the act of giving praise. Jesus starts off first by acknowledging God and his attributes. When we pray, it will put us in the correct mindset right off the bat if we begin to proclaim the amazing attributes of God. Tell him that you know how awesome and glorious and just and merciful he is. It will not only please him, but it puts you and me in perspective of just how big God is, and just how big we are not.
Thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks. Thank God for the things he does for you and gives you. I gotta be honest, this is one that I struggle with a lot. But really, taking a few minutes to thank God for a warm house, a car, food, and that he is sovereign over everything in your life is also a perspective changer. It can lessen the prominence of your problems and increase your belief in God’s ability to come through for you - as he always has before.
Confession is the act of admitting your sins to God. You may remember a few things you did that are really eating you up. If go, bring those to God. Confess them and repent. If you don’t think of specific “sins”, confess your shortcomings. The things in your life that you need to do better. That person you struggle with hating. That tendency to lie just a little bit. Whatever it is, there is always something we can bring to God and ask him to help us deal with.
Finally, Supplication is bringing requests. God does care about our worries, fears, and desires, but I don’t believe that the order in which Jesus prayed was an accident. Absolutely do bring your requests to God, but first remember what he has done for you, get right with him by confession, and go into it knowing that he has ultimate control and the sovereign power over these situations that you are bringing to him.
Prayer may seem scary, or it may be hard to know where to start, so I just encourage you guys to follow Jesus’ guidance on prayer when you have your prayer time.
Acknowledge his attributes.
Thank Him for his provision.
Confess your shortcomings.
Request his intervention and leading in your situations.
It’s as easy as that. Prayer is life-changing, and it’s simple. The Lord wants you to talk to him, and he wants to speak with you through it. Do you desire a rock-solid, trustworthy, mind blowing relationship with your Lord and Savior? It starts with prayer.
I want to wrap up with a challenge. Every day, for two weeks, be deliberate about taking some time to pray every day. Follow Jesus’ demonstration of prayer and spend that time with Him. Do it! I’m going to do it too. See if it doesn’t change your perspective. See if it doesn’t give you hope. See if it doesn’t change you.