23 August 2013

Four Steps of Prayer: Prayer 101

Before I begin, I'd like to share something to help ease your mind and heart about prayer.  I desire to "bust some myths" about prayer. In Mary Southerland's 5 week study, "Laugh More ... Live Better" on Joy, she writes about pray producing joy:

  1. Let go of worry about praying a 'right' way.
  2. There is no 'right' posture or place for prayer.
  3. Prayer helps us 'tune in' to the presence of God.
Its hard to talk with God when we are anticipating how He's going to answer our prayer, when He's going to answer, or dictate instruction on how and when to answer us. When we try to use God like our "magic genie in the lamp", we become frustrated with God and say "I prayed to You and You didn't answer me!" or "You didn't do what I thought needed to be done!" When our prayer focus is on "I" and not Him, we loose some of our joy. This is the purpose of the Four Steps Of Prayer. Its a guide. Its ONLY a guide! It guides me (and hopefully you) in placing my focus on Who my focus should be on: God.

Here is the Four Steps used by Moms In Prayer International:
  1. Praise
  2. Confession
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Intercession
In Southerland's study and in the booklet people receive when attending The Emmaus Walk, both use ACTS:
  1. Adoration
  2. Confession
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Supplication
Both mean the same thing!  We'll now pick them apart one by one.

Praise/Adoration

Begin your prayer with giving God praise for who He IS!  Enter into His presence focusing on God's name(s), character, or an attribute. 

Giving God praise, "exalts God and gives Him glory", "helps us focus on God and not our situation", "brings about an awareness of God's Presence", "dispels the enemy's power".  (Taken from the Moms In Prayer Booklet).

God is: love, good, faithful, justice, light, the rock, fortress, shield, strength, joy (just to name a few)
For more praise helps, visiting Moms In Prayer website www.momsinprayer.org and click on "Leader's Corner" then click on "Prayer Sheets".  On the right side will be more links, click on "Attributes of God" and a PDF will open!  Feel free to print!

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chronicles 20:22

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. Psalm 22:3
 
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. Psalm 145:3
 
Confession

This part of the prayer allows you to clear your heart and mind before God. Confess sins, to become humbled, to ask Him to search you. It's about surrendering your will for His will. It's us realizing we ARE human with human frailties and asking God to give us the strength, to empower us with His Holy Spirit  to do what He is desiring us to do. 

Now, I hear you! "Vivian, I'm a Christian. Jesus lives in my heart. I don't sin everyday. Why do I need to this time of confession?"

Let me tell you a story. I walk the local mall. One day, I saw this lady who had come from one of the restaurants. She was loaded down with all kinds of cooking supplies. Oil, flour, eggs. Two large "trays" of eggs. I heard this voice "Offer her help in carrying the eggs." I stopped walking; a brief pause. I continued. The Voice:  Offer her help in carrying the eggs. I paused. She was closer to the door. I kept going. One more time the Voice: Offer her help in carrying the eggs. I almost went to help! Then I rationalized "She'd probably say 'no' anyway." The Voice, "It's the offer that counts." I kept going. My heart felt heavy! So I prayed "Lord, help her get to the car without breaking all those eggs." The Voice: THAT! Was YOUR task!

I cried! 

Sometimes we see sin as: adultery, lying, taking God's name in vain, murder, stealing. Sin IS disobedience! I knew in my heart I had ignored God's Spirit prompting me to offer the lady help. I kept on walking just like the people in Jesus's story "The Good Samaritan". 
 
Confession isn't always about a "sin" BUT it is always about surrender, yielding. It's about living in submission to God's perfect will! It's about asking Him to "search my heart" and being humbled before Him.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Thanksgiving

Giving God credit and thanking Him for what He has done, is doing in our lives. 

Sounds simple doesn't it? NOPE!

The most miserable people are the ones who are the most ungrateful. Ingratitude breeds resentment, jealousy. Discontent with everything God has given them! 

Stopping to count our blessings and give God an offering of thanks begins to change us! Contentment. Joy. Realizing how blessed I am inspite of how little I have. 
 
What has God blessed you with? Name family members by name, friends by name, things He has provided (home, vehicle, food, clothes, etc.). Thank Him for His ultimate gift to you! Jesus! Thank Him for paying the price Sin demanded. Thank Him for the sunshine and the rain. Thank Him for your struggles! 

What? 

You read right! Say "Lord, I don't know why I am going through this BUT I thank You for the chance to be a witness to others about Your faithfulness to me."

To be honest, I think this part of prayer has changed me more than "Confession" has changed me. It's so easy to focus on what we don't have than it is to give thanks for what we do have. I heard a joke once about the man with 6 kids and he man with 6 million dollars. The question is "Who's content, the man with 6 kids or the man with $6 million?" The answer is "The man with 6 kids because he doesn't want any more!" The point is the man is content with 6 kids for many reasons! (Hahaha) The man with $6 million isn't satisfied because he always wants MORE! 

God HAS given you GOOD gifts! Give Him thanks! (Trust me ... It takes a few days before the light bulb pops over your head IF you are a person who has mostly focused on the "I have nots".)

Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me. Psalm 50:23a
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Supplication/Intercession

Praying for others.

Intercession:
Standing in the "gap" for someone who doesn't know Christ. Standing in the "gap" for someone who is broken hearted and can't pray for him/herself. Standing in the gap for a school, community, etc.  

Supplication:
Lifting up needs of other people. Supplication "is the combination of intercession and petition" (Worship Booklet for Pilgrams; Walk to Emmaus 3rd Edition pg 46). It is "asking God to meet the needs of other people" (Laugh More study).

He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. Isaiah 59:16

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18

This is a HUGE amount to take in!  If you notice, praying takes the focus off of "me" and puts it on God and others.  It is about what God desires instead of what "I" desire.  It's about what others need instead of what "I" need.  Is it ok to tell God "my" needs?  YES!

Prayer 102 will focus on "Praying the Scriptures".  Again, there is no "right" way to pray!  Just be open and honest with God!  No sense in trying to hide what is on your mind and heart because He already knows it. :)
 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

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  2. This is awesome. Honestly the thing that sticks out most to me is not need to pray a certain way. That's the way the Lord wants it. the HONEST you! Love it!!!

    Jessica
    http://coloradoblessedmom.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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