Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to Pray

In our rehearsal last night, our large choir was led in an amazing prayer time of praise and adoration – sharing our declarations of love, awe, wonder and gratitude for our precious Lord and Saviour, our awesome God and the beautiful Holy Spirit. We were reminded that in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus gives us the model of how we can structure our prayers. He begins with adoration, humility and surrender. We remind ourselves of who God is and align our hearts with His will, just as Christ anguished in the garden, "Not my will but thine be done."

Prayer can take many forms, but one simple acronym that many have found helpful for their personal quiet time is A.C.T.S.

A = Adoration
C = Confession
T = Thanksgiving
S = Supplication

Adoration is what we experienced last night. When we focus on God and who He is, not only in relation to us but who He is in the beauty of his holiness apart and separate from anything to do with us. If you find yourself at a loss for what to say in adoration, consider reading scripture (some helpful lists are here and here), articles and study aids that help you get know the God we worship. 

We can only worship someone we love, 
and we can only love someone we know.

Confession is a necessary time of speaking before the Lord in open and total transparency. He knows everything about us, but as C.S. Lewis says, prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me. To name a thing takes away its power. We cannot heal what we do not acknowledge. When I confess sin in my life, God can release me from its power. His forgiveness for us was secured on the cross, but he instructs us to confess. As 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” For a more in-depth consideration, read David Whyte's thoughts regarding the value of confession.

Confession opens the door to healing and to a larger life 
where I do not repeat the self-same sin.

Thanksgiving is God’s will. “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). It is the internal attitude of gratefulness, cultivating the eyes of our heart to see His gifts, no matter how small, in every situation. Thanking God for all that comes in the journey, not for every circumstance but in the midst of it, realizing that every good gift and every perfect gift is from his hand, and that sometimes his gifts come disguised in trials or challenges that shape our character and require us to trust or wait on Him. Gratitude preceded many of the miracles Jesus performed. He lifted his eyes and thanked God before he broke bread, before he fed 5,000+, before he raised Lazarus from the dead. A wonderful resource on gratitude is here.

Gratitude and thanksgiving make it possible 
to live fully right where we are.

Supplication, petition and intercession is about humbly and earnestly asking God to act, provide or intervene. When we pray for God’s will on behalf of someone else, it is called petition or intercession while making a request for ourselves is supplication. There is nothing wrong with asking, in fact, God invites us to boldly approach the throne of Grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Learn more here

Don't worry
Tell God what you need
Thank Him for what he's already done
and peace will follow

Note for the choir: As we have various leaders prompt different styles of prayer over the remainder of the season together, we will explore different aspects of God and our relationship to him, different ways of speaking with and hearing from the Spirit. We've practiced the beginnings of Listening Prayer, which is very different from speaking to God like we've discussed above. If you'd like to learn more about Listening Prayer, consider reading Can You Hear Me or Rivers from Eden, or watch the seminar videos by Brad Jerzak here.

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