Prayer is an important aspect of our growth in the Lord and one, honestly, that I think we can overlook when it comes to our spiritual growth. We can tend to emphasize disciplines such as Bible study and worship, both of which are necessary for our growth in the Lord, but we may not talk about prayer as much. At least that seems to be my experience. Prayer, though, is just as necessary to our growth as other spiritual disciplines. But honestly, prayer is something that many seem to struggle with. Staying consistent, alert, and focused are areas that we all may struggle in. Hopefully, these brief thoughts will help us develop a consistent, healthy habit of prayer.
Teach Us To Pray
Prayer may not always feel natural or it may not be easy for us. If this is you, don't worry. You are in good company! Jesus had the healthy habit of praying and you recall on one occasion when Jesus was praying His disciples asked Him, “Lord teach us to pray” (ref. Luke 11:1). They wanted to know how to pray as Jesus prayed. Prayer may not feel natural at first and we may struggle with our words but don’t let this discourage you from seeking and developing a healthy habit of prayer. The more you pray, the more comfortable you will become in your time of prayer.
The Christian and Prayer
We are told in (Philippians 4:6) "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God". We see that in everything we are to be in prayer. Presenting our needs before the Father and thanking Him for what we have, prayer should be a constant part of our lives as Christians. We are told: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18). As Christians, prayer should be a constant part of our lives.
Acknowledge Our Creator
Prayer enables us to acknowledge God. It helps us to realize our dependence upon Him. In prayer, we praise Him for His goodness, kindness, mercy, and His forgiveness.
We are told that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17). Prayer helps me keep the focus on God and less on ourselves.
Time With Our Creator
Prayer is a way that we spend time in fellowship with our Creator. God speaks to us through His Spirit-inspired word and we talk with Him through prayer. As mentioned earlier, we present our requests to the Lord through prayer (ref. James 4:2). Prayer is a way that we worship Him as we praise and exalt Him. We lift up our friends and loved ones through prayers of supplication and we seek the Lord’s wisdom for our lives through prayer (ref. James 1:5). In prayer, we have the opportunity to connect with our Creator.
Prayer connects our heart to the Lord. For myself, prayer keeps my study of God’s Word from being purely academic. The purpose of maturing and growing in the Lord is so that we can become more like our Savior each day. I want the Lord to transform my life into the life He desires for me. Prayer helps me make this connection as I reflect on both Him and His Word.
These are just a few reasons we as Christians pray. If I may, let me share with you a few practical steps that have helped me with my prayers.
First, develop a consistent time to pray
Now we may pray at different times throughout the day, for example, I like to pray on my drive to work or when I drive to worship. I know my wife has shared with me that she will often pray when she is doing work around the house. So I’m not excluding these times. But make a specific time to pray each day. This needs to be a time when you are alert. For me, waiting until bedtime is not a good time. Having this specific time allows my mind to be prepared for prayer.
Second, find a place to pray
This can be hard, I know! But try to find a place and a time that will be free from distractions or at least have fewer distractions. Here is a “pro-tip”: Don’t have your phone with you! Yes, you can put it away for a few minutes. Those messages will be there when you are done. Honestly though, try to find a consistent place where there will not be many distractions and that is not too loud so that you can focus on this time of prayer. As I mentioned, this can be hard. It may need to be early in the morning or at lunchtime in the car. But do try to find a consistent place to pray where there are fewer distractions.
Third, make a list
Spend a few minutes thinking about what you are going to pray about. I like to keep our prayer list from church next to me when I pray. I want to spend some time praying for others, so I have found having a prayer list is helpful. Also included in my list are things I am thankful for, things I’m struggling with, or items of praise to express to the Lord. The point is I want something that will help me to stay focused so that my mind is less likely to drift.
These three relatively small steps have greatly helped me with my time of prayer.
The A.C.T.S. of prayer
The last thing I would like to share with you is a short acrostic for prayer. As we mentioned in the beginning, prayer may not be something you are in the habit of. It may seem uncomfortable. Where do I start? What do I say? I don't remember when I first heard the A.C.T.S. of prayer, however, this acrostic may be helpful as you organize your thoughts and plan your time in prayer.
I like to begin my prayers with praise. Acknowledging God and praising Him as Creator.
This is the time when I will acknowledge my shortcomings and sins before the Lord and seek His forgiveness.
Thanking Him for His Son and the sacrifice of our Lord. Thanking Him for the promises and assurances found in His Word. Thanking Him for His provisions and blessings, remembering His grace and mercy.
Bringing the needs of others and myself before Him. This is where that prayer list is helpful.
Prayer is an important part of our growth in the Lord. And I hope that if you are not in the habit of consistent prayer, these brief thoughts will help as together we develop a consistent, healthy habit of prayer.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved
A.C.T.S. of prayer image download
bio: Steve and Brenda have been married for the past twenty-seven years and have three beautiful daughters. In addition to producing content for and managing SimplyRevised, Steve is the preaching minister at Southbelt Church of Christ located in Pasadena, TX.