Praying to God is about a conversation that we have come to take for granted. Too often our prayers fail to reach a point of significance that leads to a real deep conversation with the Lord. How do we get there and how do we learn to hear God's voice? These are two questions we all need to answer. I have been reading a book called Too Busy Not To Pray, Slowing Down to Be with God by Bill Hybels and I would like to share some of his teachings.
Let's start with a framework for prayer that God provides us found in Matthew 6: 9-13, The Lord's Prayer:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever.
This prayer provides a framework that focuses on four critical prayer points many of you may have learned and remember with the acronym, ACTS. That acronym stands for the following:
1. Adoration-Hallowed be thy name, yes we adore our heavenly father and adoration is the way we open the line of communication in prayer. We lift our mighty God up in heavenly praise recognizing that he is the king of kings, the lilly of the valley, the bright and morning start, our beginning and our end, and our master and savior. Start your conversation with the one you love and the one that loves you unconditionally with adoration.
2. Confession-Forgive our debts, yes we need to lay down our sins before God without being embarassed or ashamed. He knows them already but confessing them and discussing them with God helps us put it out there and discuss the deep realities of our sin and mistakes. That discussion helps us work through our sins with God and allows for his voice and conviction to minister to our hearts and help us to a place where we can move past that sin. He forgives us, loves us, and empowers us to overcome those weaknesses we entrust to him. Be real about your sin confession, God gets it.
3. Thanksgiving-For the kingdom and power and glory are yours; that is how we thank our heavenly father by acknowledging that it is all his, under his control. We thank him because we know that despite our brokenness, he continues to respond to our prayers. Philippians 4:6 reminds us that, "In everything with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Give him thanks and be specific!
4. Supplication-Your will be done, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil all remind us that we must petition God for his will to take precedence over our will, for his protection from the temptations we will encounter, and for his deliverance when we find ourselves in the midst of evil. This is a time of yearning and deep conversation with God about those distractors that draw you away from your relationship with him, about those evil occurrences that darken your heart but that he can help you overcome.
This is a model for prayer that I have adopted as my framework for conversing with God. I even plan for that conversation by writing down what I am going to discuss before going to my prayer corner to talk with God. Have a strategy for prayer in place to ensure a deep and sincere conversation with God is taking place and you will be amazed at the responses you receive. Just a little advice to go!