It is the clear teaching of Scripture that we are to give ourselves to consistent prayer (1 Sam. 12:23; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17; James 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:7). However, at times we can find it hard as we may struggle with how we ought to pray.
The manner of prayer is a struggle for many, but it ought not to prevent us from praying! We must not be under the impression that there is a single formula to prayer. As we study the Scriptures we learn that prayer takes place in varied ways. An excellent example concerning the manner of prayer is what is most famously known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9-13). Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray (click here for a previous post on this prayer).
A common devise to help us remember the different kinds of prayer is the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) acrostic. Consider the following Scripture references to help inform the different ways we pray:
One aspect of the believer’s prayer is adoration. This involves praising, worshiping and exalting the Lord. When we think about what Scripture says concerning who God is, there is much we can praise Him for. The psalmist declared, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3). When you pray, take time to adore the Lord.
A second aspect of our prayer time is confession. All of us sin. This is not to be ignored. If you are a believer you will never be condemned (cf. Rom. 8:1), but your sin does interfere with your fellowship and joy int he Lord. What do we do about it? The apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confession of our sin is to be an ongoing practice in our prayers.
When we stop and consider all that the Lord has done for us and continues to do for us, we have lots to be thankful for! To be thankful is the will of God (1 Thess. 5:18), so it is an essential part of the Christian life. We are to never forget all His benefits (Psalm 103:2). The words of the psalmist instruct us well, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).
The final aspect of pray we will consider in this post is supplication. This refers to the requests that we make in prayer. This tends to be the most commonly employed aspect of prayer. If we rightly use the previous aspects, our requests ought to be in line with what will honour the Lord. Healthy prayer will involve requests (cf. Matt. 6:11-13). We are commanded to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Our supplications among many other things will include prayer for the lost (1 Sam. 12:23; Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59-60; Rom. 10:1), prayer for provision (Matt. 6:11), forgiveness (Matt. 6:12), protection (Matt. 6:13), wisdom (James 1:5) and our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
We are to take time and pray. Let us make use of the variety of ways God has provided for us in coming before His throne of grace.