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|Bill Hybels - Coffee with God|
|The Prayer |
Sung by Rhema Marvanne
Portions of this study were adapted from
Do any of these statements describe how you feel?
- I don't know how to pray.
- I've never prayed out loud before.
- I am afraid to pray.
- It seems my prayers are not getting through.
- How do I know if I'm praying selfish requests or prayers according to God's will?
- I'm too busy to pray.
- Sometimes I doubt that God really wants to answer mny prayers.
- My prayers are stale. I say the same thing over and over.
This lesson is designed to help you understand more about prayer. Before you go any further watch the following video Coffee With God.
What is Prayer?
Simply put, prayer is a conversation with God. Whether it takes the form of an impromptu quick plea for help or thoughtful written prayer, whenever we pray, we are talking to God. Prayer includes worship of God and meditation on God. Prayer often includes a request that God will help someone who is in need. Prayer is a Christian's right and duty.
Praying is not simply thinking good thoughts or wishing certain things would come true. Prayer is designed by God as a way for humans to communicate with Him.
Prayer is a two-way communication between you and God. Not only do we speak to God about what we are thankful for and what we need, we also listen to God in prayer. Silent listening is just as important an element of prayer time as the words we speak. Here are some thoughts from the Bible concerning prayer that might help us understand this important activity.
Prayer is Necessary
We cannot discount prayer as an optional part of Christian life. Prayer is necessary because it involves communication with God. Our relationship with God grows over time, especially during the time we spend in prayer.
To get an idea of what happens when we neglect our prayer life, imagine a married couple. What if that couple did not speak to each other very much? What if they only spoke a few sentences to each other once a week? How well would they know each other after a few years of such behavior? Not well at all. They would not know each other's hopes and dreams, the things that upset them, or much of anything else important to our relationship.
That is pretty much what happens to our relationship with God if we don't continue to communicate with Him through prayer. We don't really know what He wants us to do with our lives. We missed the guidance He longs to give us.
How to Pray
Prayer does not require a specialized vocabulary. There are no special words that we must use in order for the activity to countless prayer. We only need to converse with God as we would any good friend. We simply share with Him our choices, our concerns, our thankfulness, etc. It is even okay to express our anger to God; He is our truest friend, and he can take it and understand it.
Though there is no rigid "right or wrong" way to pray, some people have found a helpful way to structure their prayers. They use the acrostic "ACTS" to remember the following words: A is for acknowledgment, C is for confession, T is for Thanksgiving, and S is for supplication. T
- Acknowledgment: In this part of the prayer we recognize who God is. Remember He is the creator of the universe, the Savior of humanity, and the sustainer of our lives---Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God alone is worthy of our worship, and the only one to whom we pray. We acknowledge this and more when we pause to pray to God.
- Confession: In this part of the prayer, we admit that we are not always the people we intend to be. Sometimes we fall short of the goals God has set for us. In prayer we tell God that we are sorry for shortcomings, and remind ourselves that we can do better with God's help.
- Thanksgiving: As we move into this portion of our prayer time, we begin to think about, and list, all the things we are thankful in our lives. We recognize that all these good things have come through the grace of God. They are gifts He has given us.
- Supplication: This simply means we pray for the needs of others and ourselves. We bring specific requests of God in his part of our program. Then we wait upon God for answers to our prayers. Sometimes we wait in silence during the prayer time, other times patiently going on about the duties of our lives while waiting for God to work things out in circumstances.
Is it okay to read or recite a prayer?
Another issue that is sometimes discussed is whether it is best to use a written prayer or make up prayers spontaneously. Actually, one form is not "better" than the other. Both have their value. Prayer connects us to other Christians throughout history who expressed many of the same things we have thought or felt. Also, writing our prayers can often help us see the core issues of something we are praying about, or even show us years later how God has answered our prayers. At the same time, to pray whatever comes to mind can help us express deep emotions at the moment.
Another model that helps us bring a well rounded, complete approach to our prayers is to quote The Lord's Prayer. This is found in Matthew 6:13-19. The Lord's Prayer is a model prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Christians often recite the Lords prayer when they worship. The various elements of this "model" prayer are worth a lifetime of study.