Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
“Oh Lord, please get me out of this mess. I promise to be good.” How often have you prayed that prayer? When we are in trouble, we usually turn to God for help. But how would you feel if you had a friend who only called when there was a crisis?
God doesn’t want to bargain with us; he wants to develop a relationship with us. He wants to celebrate with us in the good times as well as comfort us in the bad times. The Bible says that the prayer of a righteous person is ‘powerful and effective’ (James 5:16). Good things happen when we pray. More importantly, prayer gives us a deeper understanding of who God is and what his plan is for our lives.
The great thing about prayer is that you can do it just about anywhere. You can pray kneeling at your bedside, travelling on the subway, even walking down the street. God is not so concerned with where or how you pray; he is more concerned that you pray regularly and consistently.
Use ACTS as a guideline for your prayers
Many of us would pray more often if we only knew how. We can recite the children’s prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep….” but we don’t learn how to pray like adults. But prayer is not difficult. It can be the same as a normal everyday conversation; only the person you are speaking with is God. You can say the prayer aloud or in your thoughts. The most important thing is to be honest and open.
The following is an easy guideline for prayer based on the acronym ‘ACTS’. Good prayers often contain the following elements:
- A is for adoration: God desires that we worship him. He is the great Creator and Source of all life. He is the one who sets the stars in place. The remarkable thing is that, even though he is almighty and eternal, he also loves and cares for you. He knows how many hairs you have on your head. He is concerned with the intimate details of your life. Such a wonderful, loving God deserves our praise.
- C is for confession: God’s greatness can cause us to reflect on our own condition. When we get closer to God’s perfection, we begin to understand our own imperfection—just as when you bring stained clothing into the light you can begin to see dirty spots. God will forgive our wrongdoing and heal our hurts if we ask him (Psalm 51:10). Ask God to cleanse your heart from harmful thinking and keep you safe from temptation.
- T is for thanksgiving: Take a good look around you. When you stop to think you will find that you will have a lot to be thankful for. Be sure to count your blessings and remember that God is the Giver of all good gifts (Psalm 147).
- S is for supplication: Make your requests known to God (Philippians 4:6-7). Supplication means asking God to supply your needs and the needs of others. Before you ask God for something, check your motivation. When we ask unselfishly God is more inclined to be generous. Sometimes God says ‘no’ to our prayers, but we know “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
And be ready to listen to God
Prayer is two-way communication. The Bible says we can bring our requests to God, but we must also be ready to listen to him. Does God speak directly to us? Most of us won’t hear a ‘voice’ from Heaven. But we feel his presence. When we take time to pray, his spirit will cause us to reflect on important things. We will also see the areas in our lives that we need to change and he will give us the strength to change them.
This is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples in Mathew 6:10-13:
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil, Amen.
Why not talk to God in prayer today?
Friends & Family, 2000