When I was just getting excited about prayer, I would mainly ask God for things. I later learned that while “asking” is to be part of our relationship with Him, there are other elements of prayer that, as we grow in our relationship with the Lord we will want to begin including as well.
The Westminster Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man (kind)?” and answers, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
So often I have treated God like an “answer-to-prayer-dispenser” rather than a Person with whom I have an enjoyable love relationship.
Although communion with God is all about our heart’s attitude, the following are four aspects of prayer that make for a healthy conversation with God.
To show adoration to God is to worship, praise, honor and exalt Him. In other words, respect Him, be in awe of Him, and say wonderful things about Him. Psalm 103 and 145 are good examples of adoring the Lord.
When we begin to acknowledge how great, perfect and awesome our God is, we can’t help but recognize our weaknesses and sins. Admitting and confessing our sins (1 John 1:9) and knowing He has forgiven our past, present and future sin is vital to our prayer life. God is a Holy God, so we need to come to Him with a clean heart. “He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sins” (Psalm 66:18).
Giving thanks expresses our faith, and it is faith that pleases God. In Hebrews 11:6 we read, “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 states, “In all things give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ concerning you.” We don’t necessarily give thanks for the difficult circumstances, but give thanks for His total provision during good – and painful ones.
Asking seems to come naturally to children. As God’s children, we can freely talk to Him and ask Him for anything. And like any caring parent, He will say, “Yes” to some of our requests, “No” some of the time and at times, He will say, “Wait.”
You can remember this outline for prayer through the acronym ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Each component is a necessary for an effective prayer life. There are also many other aspects of prayer, which I may write about another day, but if you are new to praying, I encourage you to begin practicing these four elements when you pray.
Father, I am awed by fact that among the six billion people on earth, I am heard by You, and You actually delight in my prayers. Thank You so much. Teach us how to pray. Amen.