Lord, Teach Me How To Pray.
“A story of prayer is a story of great achievements” - E.M. Bounds
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples." Luke 11:1
Some of us will wonder, “of all the things that the disciples could ask Jesus, why would they ask Him about prayer when they could ask Jesus to teach them how to do miracles.” That would be grand! They wouldn’t have to look for bread during picnics, and they never had to run out of wine during parties. Right? But why prayer?”
Before Jesus became a miracle-worker, and before He became a Savior, He was first a man of prayer. Prayer was not just his snack. It was His diet. Prayer was Jesus’ lifestyle. And maybe this is what the disciples saw - that this very basic act of praying enabled Jesus to do wonders.
As a response to His disciples’ request, Jesus taught them about the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:2-4. The Lord’s Prayer was given to them as a pattern on how to communicate their thoughts to the Father, and not a prayer to be recited word for word. In the light of Jesus’ teachings and other Scriptures about prayer, what would be the best way to pray?
In reality, there is no formula to prayer. However, when we pray, we have a lot of things in mind and sometimes, we get distracted by some thoughts that just pops up out of nowhere like:
“Forgive me Lord for this sin. . . and oh! I almost forgot, Lord, my friend is sick and needs healing and I pray that you will extend Your hand. . .and. . . before that Lord. . . you know what happened yesterday?”
You get what I mean? Been there, done that. My prayer back then was a just a very casual conversation with the Lord until I discovered the ACTS model of prayer. ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
Adoration means worship. It means that we praise the Lord for who He is. We acknowledge His Omnipotence, His Omnipresence, His Holiness, His Sovereignty, and all His wonderful attributes. Through adoration, we are reminded of how big God is and we are reminded of all his wonderful promises. Likewise, praising God at the start of our prayer conditions our body, mind, heart, and soul to be fully surrendered to Him at this time of communion. Starting our prayer with praise is very powerful, for the Lord delights in our praises.
Confession means agreeing with God about the sins we have committed and asking Him for forgiveness. Through confession, we allow God to examine our heart and minds and to anoint us with His most precious blood as a sign of forgiveness. As we ask God to cleanse us from sin, we also repent and renew our covenant with Him. Confession also humbles us and opens our hearts to forgive others who have done us wrong. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25
Having been forgiven of our sins, our hearts are now conditioned to feel grateful. When we pray the prayer of thanksgiving, we not only thank the Lord for all the blessings that we have received, but we also thank Him daily for the salvation and freedom that we are enjoying at this very moment. In this time of prayer, we remember His Divine protection, provision, and guidance that He is giving us daily. In the same way, we thank the Holy Spirit for opening doors of opportunities for us to cultivate the gifts bestowed upon us.
This word came from the root word “supply” which means “to satisfy the needs or wishes of.” Praying the prayer of supplication means that we acknowledge God as the ultimate Source of everything. We come to the Lord daily asking a variety of needs. It may be a personal need like provision for our daily needs, our finances, healing, promotion, etc. There are times when we feel the need to pray for other people, and even for our nation. This is called intercession. Whenever we feel a burden to pray for someone, we present their needs upon the throne on their behalf. This is an opportunity to show love and kindness to other people, especially in the Body of Christ.
This ACTS model serve as our guide to keep us in track of everything that we need cover in prayer throughout the day. But let us always keep in mind that it is not how hard, how organized, or how long we pray that makes it a good one. A good prayer is one that is prayed wholeheartedly, with all sincerity, and with faith in God.
A tear shed in Godly sorrow is better than a long prayer uttered in pride.
Why is Prayer Important?
Prayer is a great privilege given to everyone who has accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. In the Old Testament days, no one could approach God directly without a proper mediator. Even the high priests needed to wash themselves clean before they could come before God. Moreover, during the Old Testament days, when people wanted to ask for forgiveness of their sins, they needed to offer an animal as a sacrifice. Take note, not just an animal, but it should be the best one in the flock for the sacrifice to be acceptable. On top of that, they needed to kill the animal so that its blood could cover up their sins. But when Jesus came, He restored our relationship with the Father, allowing us to come to the throne anytime of the day, through Jesus, who became the Ultimate Sacrifice to redeem us from all our sins and iniquities. Imagine how blessed we are that we no longer need to observe those Old Testament practices just to talk to God and get right with Him. That is why I encourage you to make the most out of this great privilege given to us. Pray often. Talk to God about what happened in your day. He hears! And He answers!
Prayer makes all things bearable. Not only that, it makes all things possible. Prayer makes us confident in facing life’s battles. Like what Paul said “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13
Looking at the life of Paul, we can observe how his constant communion with God through prayer had helped him become one of the greatest apostles in biblical history. He had shown great optimism in the midst of severe trials. And we all know that it was only possible because Paul was tapped into the Unlimited Source of strength, power, and wisdom. His intimacy with Jesus enabled him to endure anything that life threw his way.
Prayer should be our soul’s greatest craving each day. Like a man in-love who longs to hear the voice of his beloved daily, we should be looking forward to our personal time with the Lord through prayer.
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It does not change God- it changes me.” -C.S. Lewis