Today in Sunday School, we studied a very convicting topic: prayer. I, as well as many other Christians, fall into the habit of not praying. There are many reasons why, such as not understanding the importance of prayer, forgetting that it is a command and a privilege, getting our priorities wrong, etc… For me, I struggle with simple laziness and hypercalvinism (which, I discovered, is a fancy word for an idea I already knew: saying that God is sovereign over everything, so I don’t need to pray). But I think that another issue (which I will not really dwell on) is that we simply have a lack of faith or think that we don’t truly need God to take care of it – we can handle it ourselves.
Prayer, however, is not something that God says, “Oh, you can take it or leave it, Nathan. It’s okay: you don’t have to pray today,” to. It’s not only expected from us, it’s a command.
Colossians 4:2 says: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…” and I Thessalonians 5:16 – 17 says: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing…” Therefore, we see that prayer is a command, just like “don’t steal” and “don’t lie”. We seem to be very comfortable keeping those command and ask forgiveness when we break them, but how often are we horrified with ourselves, when, at the end of the day, we look back and see that we haven’t prayed at all.
When we pray consistently, we see that our will becomes shaped to God’s will. Psalm 37:4 – 5 says: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” As we become sanctified to become more and more like God, our desires become closer and closer to His will for us. Therefore, the passage does not say: “Ask the Lord for anything, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” It says: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” This is very convicting, because our prayers are often just one big wish-list. Now it may be that the iPod we want may be in God’s will for us, but, just because your prayer is answered with a “yes” doesn’t mean that you are delighting yourself in the Lord and committing our way to the Lord.
We wrapped up with a section on how to pray, practically. We had the ACTS Model which follows this format:
Adoration or praise to God,
Confession of sins
Thanksgiving to God for what He has given us
Supplication of requests to God.
Another way to make sure that your prayer time is structured is to keep a prayer journal. I did this a while ago and then never picked it up again, but I think that I will try it once more. This is kind of like a schedule for what you will pray for. For example, Monday might be “pray for immediate family day” in which you would record specific requests that you have pertaining to your immediate family and then, as new requests come off, you can add them on. This might be a particular blessing because, when a prayer request is answered, you may check it off and see God’s provision in your life – even if it is not exactly what you expected.
A sure-fire way to pray is always to pray straight Scripture. If you look through the Psalms, you will find many prayers that are beautiful and full of doctrine.
Anyway, these are my thoughts. Thanks, Josh, for teaching a great lesson today! I felt that it was a very appropriate reminder – something we could use more often!