Friday, October 29

ACTS of Prayer

When my husband and I were in the earliest part of our dating relationship, we attended separate schools located about 100 miles from one another. We only got together in person about once every other weekend. We spent a lot of time just getting to know each other through phone conversations and numerous emails. Even in the absence of a great deal of face-to-face time, we were still able to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship. Without the phone calls and the emails, we probably would not have had the opportunity to get to know each other as well as we do.

Our relationship with God is similar in the sense that we don't have actual face-to-face time with him. Many people find it difficult to believe in a God they can't see, let alone develop a loving relationship with him. They key to knowing the heart of God, knowing his will and experiencing his love comes from communicating with him through prayer. It also comes from letting him communicate to us through the Bible.

Prayer is a way for us to contemplate who God is. Just as I continue to learn more about my husband through the conversations we have, we can also learn more about God as we converse with him. If there are questions in our hearts about certain things, we can ask God to make solutions and answers clearer to us. At first it may feel like conversation with him is one sided, since he rarely responds to us in an audible voice. As we continue to spend time in communication with God, we will learn how he speaks to us silently.

A familiar approach to prayer can be remembered by thinking of the acronym A.C.T.S. which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. These four pieces of prayer are excellent guidelines for making prayer time flow more like a conversation.

Adoration: we acknowlege God's goodness and adore him in how we address him. We recognize his character and praise him for who he is. Time spent in this portion of prayer serves to help us call to mind things like how many promises God keeps, how faithful he is to us, and how he provides for us.

Confession: We lay our specific sins and shortcomings before him. We tell him about the areas in which we struggle, the fears we have, and our times of unfaithfulness.

Thanksgiving: We thank God for specific ways he has answered prayers and for the blessings he gives us on a daily basis. I have found that there are times when I am tempted to leave out this portion of prayer because I feel like there is nothing positive to be thankful for. If I force myself to thank God for at least one thing, no matter how small, I find that other blessings become more apparent.

Supplication: Many of us have a tendency to skip immediately to this aspect of our conversation with God. We jump right in with an extensive list of things we want for ourselves. It is not bad to ask God for things, in fact, he promises that anything we ask in his name we shall receive. However, in an attitude of humility, we need to make sure that our time of supplication is spent asking for God's will to be done on particular things.

Our relationship with God can be one of the most meaningful relationships we have, but in order to make that possible, we need to spend time in regular prayer. We also need to regularly read our Bibles. Without those conversations, we will not know him very well, and as a result we will not be very well equipped to make decisions that would be in accordance with his will.


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