In my Tuesday morning ladies Bible study group this week we talked about prayer, and how important it is for each of us as Christians to make time to pray every day. Now I’m not talking about the whispered prayers that we all say when we’ve just narrowly missed being in a car accident; or the kind that helps us calm down before we strangle our misbehaving children. I’m talking about setting some time aside each day – even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes to go to God and really pray and worship him.
Did you know that our prayers can affect what God does and how he chooses to interact with us and the world around us? There are several examples of this throughout the Bible. One of the most famous ones is found all through the book of Exodus and the story of Moses and the Israelites. Once the Israelites were released from slavery and fled the land of Egypt, they began to grumble against God. They wanted to go back to Egypt where they had plenty of food to eat, and they didn’t have to live in the desert, and they had soft beds to sleep in at night – forgetting that they were slaves there. During these times of grumbling the Lord’s fierce anger would burn against the Israelites and on several occasions he’d had enough – he was ready to strike out at them and destroy them. Every time God had had enough Moses prayed for the people – begging God to reconsider his decision to destroy them. Reminding Him that even though the Israelites were grumbling and complaining they were still his chosen nation. Every time Moses stood in the gap for these wayward and stiffnecked people God changed his mind, and instead of destroying them he blessed them. Fortunately for us, our prayers still have the same effect on God!
Below is an acrostic that I like to use when I pray. It is a simple, four step process that helps me keep my focus on what I’m praying for, and it ensures that I don’t spent my time whining and complaining to God, as I’m so prone to doing. I hope you’ll take some time to read through it and maybe even adopt it into your own prayer life.
A – Adoration: Praise God for who He is. Call as may of his names as you can thing of: Lord, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Prince of Peace, The Almighty, The great I AM, Wonderful Counselor, the Great Physician, Abba, etc.
C – Confession: Think of every specific unconfessed sin you’ve committed, and ask God to forgive you because of His deity and majesty and your unworthiness to save yourself and the rest of the world. Include all those things you worry about, and give them to God. (Note: this is not a time to re-hash old sins that you’ve already asked forgiveness for, unless you’ve continued to commit those same sins. This is a time to think about sins you’ve committed since your last prayer session and confess those.)
T – Thanksgiving: Thank God for everything you can remember. Thank Him for allowing you to be born, for your every breath, for a heart that beats, for feet that walk, hands that move, your health, your job (even if you don’t like it), your home, your family, your friends, your church, your neighbors, your pets, the blessings He’s allowed you to enjoy, this beautiful Earth he’s created for us, etc. Even if you’re sick or in pain, or have lost your job or your home, or your dog just died and you don’t feel like being thankful, please remember that there are still many, many things for us to be thankful for; and we should focus on these blessings rather than the huge load of disappointments life hands us. Things can always get worse than they are at this very moment.
S – Supplication: This is an old fashioned word that means humbly asking for what you want or need. These requests can include prayers for yourself, your family, your acquaintances, your church, your concerns over the economy or the government. As well as prayers for those who are sick, for salvation for the lost, and for the worldwide breakthrough of the Gospel message. (Note: This is not a time to beg God to provide you with a 60″ plasma TV, or a new convertable, or a luxury vacation. While I believe He is quite capable of providing those things to you, I do not believe he will – simply because 99.99999% of the time those are the very things that are distracting us from spending more of our time with Him.)