A Beginner’s Guide to Prayer
Have you ever wondered why God did not take you to heaven immediately upon your conversion? I can think of several reasons and I would imagine you could do the same. For one, there is work to be done. We are each here for a purpose. Whether or not we fulfill that purpose is up to us. Another reason is that people need us. Regardless what the world thinks of us, we know from the teachings of Jesus that we are to be salt, light and a city set on a hill. Still another reason is anchored in the word, ‘maturity.’ Many of us know the joy of seeing our children mature and go on to lead responsible, happy lives. Remember that God wants His children to mature, too. That gives him joy and is a blessing to Him. When it comes to prayer, we see a process at work just as it is with the maturation process. Prayer needs to be practiced. Prayer can be improved as we grow in the faith. For the new Christian, it is helpful to come up with guidelines. For some of us who are older in the faith, guidelines still can be very helpful and illuminating.
Monday…You may have seen the acronym “ACTS” as a guideline to focusing one’s prayer life. The “A” reminds us that God is deserving of our adoration; you may start your prayers with this. “C” reminds us of the importance of confessing our sins to God. “T” stands for thanksgiving. Gratitude is a very important part of prayer as we express our praise to God for His blessings on our life. Lastly, the “S” stands for supplication. This is where we ask God for the things that are on our hearts.
Not a bad little outline!
Tuesday…Did you ever carefully examine the model prayer found in Matthew 6? May I encourage you to read the prayer that Jesus taught? Notice: how God is addressed…as our “Heavenly Father” and One to be held in awe. Note how His will and His Kingdom are addressed. See how we are dependent upon Him and grateful to Him for His provisions. Notice our attitude towards His forgiveness and our forgiveness towards others. And, above all, note the brevity of this prayer. The brevity!
Wednesday…Do you have to think about the conversations you will have with your friends or do they happen spontaneously? A hilarious scene in the old movie, “Back to the Future” has Marty McFly’s father nervously approaching a girl he likes and reading a line to her that he has carefully crafted. He means to say, “You are my destiny” but it comes out, “You are my density.” The truth is, that we seldom need to plan our conversations with friends. They just happen. Let it be so with God! After all, He knows…Matthew 6:8.
Thursday…I hope you had a good relationship with your father. I did with mine, especially after I got a little older. Prayer has a basis in relationship. If we really see God as our loving Father, it is so very easy to share everything with Him. Talk to Him. Talk to Him often. Do not worry over a specific formula or a ritual that must be observed. Matthew 6:7.
Friday…Do you need a schedule to get things done? Of course you do…and so do I. Schedule times for prayer. How about your commute to work? Before meals, before bedtime, recess, breaks at work, etc., can all be calls to prayer. I enjoy praying as I walk, bike, kayak, etc.
by Dale Holzbauer