The ACTS of Prayer (part 2)
Praying is not as hard as many believe it to be. It just feels daunting because we are talking to the Almighty, the Creator of the universe, the all-knowing God who knows and sees all things, so what could we possibly say to him that he does not already know?
Last time, in the ACTS of Prayer (Part 1), we looked at the first two aspects of prayer, Adoration - praising God, giving him the glory for what we have, and Confession - verbalising our sin before God. We saw that it is only right to give God the glory and then seeking to repent of our sin before praying for others.
We now turn to the final two aspects of what we should include in our prayers. These two areas are what Paul commands Timothy to do in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 when he says:
"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour..."
As a child, I was always told to write thank you letters to my aunts, uncles and grandparents for their gifts at Christmas or following my Birthday. It was a way of showing my gratitude for the small gifts they had given me. As an adult, although I no longer write letters of gratitude, I do try and say thank you to anyone who does something for me.
It is exactly the same with God. Our Father in heaven has given us so many blessings, so many gifts, so many things to help us whilst we live on Earth. Of course, the best gift and blessing God has given us is the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus Christ, just as Ephesians 1:3 says:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
It is right to give thanks to God. We must show our gratitude for what he has done for us and for our salvation. I often thank God for sending Jesus to take my sins on the cross before thanking God for other blessings, for example, I thank God for my family, my job, the opportunities at work and in St John's to praise him along with anything else that I have experienced recently.
Being thankful changes us. It makes us more positive, happier and uplifts our spirit, just as it pleases God.
I was once told by a non-believer that he saw no point in praying to ask for things as if they would change to suit our request. This got me thinking, why do we ask God for things in our lives? Why do we ask God to get shortlisted for a job interview? Why do we ask God to clear our debt? Why do we ask God to do anything?
Matthew 6:8 says, ...for your Father knows what you need before you ask.
That is amazing! God knows what we need before we ask for it. Matthew 7:7 tells us to ask and it shall be given us. Of course, these askings must be according to God's will. He knows what is best for us. He knows what we need before we ask for it and therefore if we ask for whatever it is, it will be given to us according to his will. What a wonderful God.
Of course, with that, we must be prepared for God not to give whatever we ask. This is not a relationship where our Father gives to us whatever we want - that leads to being spoilt! But through God's infinite wisdom and mercy, he gives us more grace each day to live out our lives according to his will. So, be prepared for God to say, "No!" to your supplications.
Also, our prayers may not be answered in our time either but when God decides it is right to answer it. With this in mind, never lose sight of praying for others, always be determined to pray for others. As long as your supplications are not selfish but will bring glory to God, God will hear them according to Matthew 6:7-8.
Let us, therefore, pray more and in so doing, develop our relationship with Christ.