How would you describe your prayer life? Consistent? Continual? Habitual? Enriching? Effective? Spontaneous? Passionate? Is your prayer life all these things? Or realistically, could it be described as sometimes frantic, haphazard, or “just going through the motions?”
Probably as a Christian, it is all these things…and more. Depending on what stage of life you are in, what current challenges you face, and how busy your schedule is, finding time to pray sometimes falls to the bottom of our perpetual “to do” list. It is impossible to have an enriching, effective prayer life if our lives are so busy that prayer sometimes doesn’t even make it to our list of things to accomplish each day.
A consistent, passionate prayer life takes time. Time devoted to God. Time in conversation with the Lord. Time to take a break from the stressors of life and have God’s peace envelop us as we sit in communion with him.
Think about how much better your life would be if you operated each day in the peace of God’s presence. How do we get this peace? By being surrounded by his love. By turning each aspect of our lives over to God, devoting ourselves to learning and practicing His word (the Bible) and by accepting His presence in our lives.
To build a relationship takes time, energy, and practice. It may mean sacrificing a little sleep, a little T.V. time, or giving up some social activities. It will take a concentrated effort on your part. Make a plan. Make an outline. Make a commitment to grow in your prayer life.
A practice that has helped me is following the ACTS guideline in my prayer time. In this intellectual day of acronyms, ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. These four actions during prayer are the building blocks to a more effective, all-encompassing prayer life. Let’s take a closer look at what ACTS entail:
How do we adore God? By focusing on WHO he is. He is the one true God. We cannot fathom His true nature in our minds—we are limited in our human-ness. His attributes are endless. Adore Him because He created us—in his own image no less! Adore Him because he is perfect. He is eternal. He is loving. He is faithful and righteous and tru
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
1 Chronicles 29:11 (NIV)
Make adoring God in all His glory and splendor the goal of your prayers.
God is merciful and forgiving. He knows we are not perfect yet he loves us anyway. We cannot “earn” our way into His presence. He has to call us into His presence. He has to look at us through the blood of His son Jesus Christ. We must acknowledge our sinfulness. We must seek His forgiveness before we can re-establish our relationship with who He is and how great he is. If you are not certain that you have sin to confess, delve deeper. The only Perfect One was Jesus and we fall far short of measuring up to Him.
By acknowledging your sin, we are reinforcing that God is our creator. In confessing our sin, we are agreeing with God that we are willing to work with Him in order to build a healthy relationship.
Whoever conceals his sin will not prosper,
but he who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
Giving thanks to God for all His blessings should be an important part of a Christian’s life. Yes we have to face difficulties. Our lives are not always rosy. But we must maintain a thankful spirit. How do we do that?
Think about all God has done for you. The most important thing He did for you is send Jesus Christ to die for your sins. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are assured of eternal life with our Heavenly Father, rather than spending eternity in a lake of fire and eternal separation from God.
Thank God for the people he has placed in your life. Thank Him for the material blessings he has given you. Thank Him for His constant presence in your life. Thank him for anything and everything you can think of—if you look hard enough you will see plenty to thank Him for. Thank Him even through the hard times and trials—the fact that you are suffering trials means that you are His. Satan cannot stand for us to have a relationship with the Lord. He will do everything in his power to undermine it.
Being ungrateful is a sin. It pleases Satan to sow constant discord. Don’t let him get a foothold. Ungratefulness turns us into bitter, angry, unsatisfied people.
Give thanks to the Lord
For He is good
His love endures forever.
Psalm 107:1 (NIV)
We can be thankful that HIs love endures forever. (Endure means continuing in the same state or condition.–Merriam-Webster) Isn’t that reassuring? God’s love is everlasting, all-powerful, persistent. It is durable and permanent. He doesn’t change, he remains the same. He is a constant in this ever-changing world.
Supplication is requesting God to do something, either for yourself or on behalf of somebody else. Take this time to ask God for what you need personally. Do not be afraid to ask. He wants to hear you express your needs and acknowledgement that you trust Him to hear your prayer.
6 Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Take this time to intercede on behalf of others. Imagine how pleased it must make God when we selflessly offer our prayers for others’ needs, instead of just focusing on our own selves. God loves all His children and desired for His children to love each other.
I urge, then, first of all,
that petitions, prayers, intercession
and thanksgiving be made for all people—
2 Timothy 2:1 (NIV)
If you choose to use the ACTS guideline to build up your prayer life, let me encourage you to do one thing. When all is said and done, remember to take time out to LISTEN. Sometimes we get so busy praying that we forget to listen to what God has to say. Talk about a one-sided conversation. If we talked that way to other people, our conversations and our friendships wouldn’t last very long. So remember to give God the chance to make himself known to you. That is why He sent us the Holy Spirit; to be our counselor, comforter, advocate and friend.
26 But the [a]Helper (Comforter, Advocate,
Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby),
the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name
[in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf],
He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember
everything that I have told you.
John 14:26 (AMP)