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Monday, January 25, 2010

Christian Prayer - How is Your Prayer Life?

By Robert Baines

Christian prayer is a reference to a believer communicating with God, often by speaking or thinking. It is essential to Christian growth. The following are my suggestions regarding Christian prayer:

1. Understand times and types of prayer

- Morning. In the morning is a good time to thank the Lord for letting you make it through the night. It is my longest and devotional prayer. I use the ACTS formula that we will discuss below.

- Meals. Before every meal you ought to tell the Lord "thank You" and ask Him to bless the food that you are about to eat. A long, head bowed, and eye closed prayer is not necessary, especially, if I am hungry (smile).

- Bed. Before you retire for the evening, you ought to tell the Lord "thank You" for another day. I often pray a shorter version of the ACTS formula that we will discuss below. I like to get on my knees, bow my head, and close my eyes, in total submission to God.

- Worship. In the worship service, you should pray silently, while others are leading you in prayer. In some churches, people are asked to pray out loud and all together. And sometimes they read a prayer together.

- Trouble. In the times of trouble, we tend to move past "saying prayers" to actually "praying." Thank God, God is able to hear us all at the same time and work things out for our good.

- Special. When special decisions need to be made or you simply feel like praying, pray. When someone asks you to pray for them, pray.

2. Use A.C.T.S.

- Adoration. Christian prayer should express to God that you are aware that He is the creator and sustainer of the whole universe. Acknowledge that it has been the Lord who has brought you this far and not yourself.

- Confession. Tell God that you have sinned. Name some of those that come to mind. Tell Him that you are sorry. Ask Him to forgive you because of Jesus' suffering for your pardon.

- Thanksgiving. Tell God "thank You" for the many blessings that He has showered in your life. Thank Him for food, clothing, and shelter. Thank Him for life, health, and strength. Tell Him "thank You" for keeping mean people from snuffing your life away.

- Supplication. Ask God to supply the needs of others. This is intercessory prayer. Make sure you ask God to bless your Pastor and church. Ask God to bless your family and loved ones. Even ask God to bless and have His way with those who cause stress in your life.

And then ask God to meet your needs. Ask Him to fix what is broke and smooth out the rough places. But most of all, ask God to have His way in your life. When God has His way, He will always do what is best for His people.

I often pray using the ATCS model. I put adoration and thanksgiving close and then follow with confession and supplication. There are times when after I finish adoring God, thanking Him, and confessing to Him that I am almost ashamed to ask Him for anything else.

In summary, understand that there are times and types of prayers. The acronym ACTS is a nice guide in praying.

Dr. Robert E. Baines, Jr. uses his doctorate of ministry degree and twenty years of pastoral experience to provide quality and helpful Christian living information to 1,000's of visitors a month. Make sure you secure your free copy of his ebooklet, "How to Encourage Yourself: 21 Practical Tips," and sign up for his newsletter that features great articles, helpful devotionals, and Bible based teaching notes at http://www.RobertBaines.com.

1 comment:

trevor said...

Good advice. I learned the ACTS formula a few months back and it really makes things easier since it gives me something to focus on, rather than letting me ramble (which always ends with me daydreaming), I can actually examine my life for specific things I want to pray about.

I also wanted to add something that really encouraged me. I was reading Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders and he made the point that we often get discouraged when God doesn't give us an answer to our prayers, but sometimes that silence comes because we're maturing more in our spiritual walk. I don't have time to explain his whole point, but you can read a fuller explanation in an article I recently posted.