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How Should I Pray? A Guideline to Prayer
A friend offered me this advice about prayer and it has always been a guideline for me as I pray. Use the word "Acts" (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) and you'll always remember to not just pray for what you need or want. Each letter stands for the type of prayer you should be praying.
What is important to God is that we have a relationship with him first. He wants us to be able to just talk to him like we would a friend, with complete respect of course. He doesn't want us to just repeat the same prayers over and over again or treat him like he is Santa Claus and just ask for what we need. Coming to him in prayer often is important too. The Bible says to "pray without ceasing."
I often just pray short prayers throughout the day and just talk to God, but when I have time I try to include these guidelines. If I have a need, I pray immediately about that need or if I commit a sin I try to ask forgiveness right away. But "Acts" is a good guideline to help us remember that we need to worship Him, review our hearts to see if we have sinned etc and do these things everyday.
Jesus told us to use the "Our Father" as a guideline to prayer and this outline contains each part of that prayer.
Adoration is worship. I always wondered what the proper way to worship God was and found that it is just telling God who He is. Then it was easy because I knew God is all powerful, all knowing, eternal, perfectly loving etc.
Now it is easy to worship God. I just thank him for being powerful enough to take care of all of my problems. All knowing enough to always know what they are, loving me when I really don't deserve it etc.
When you see a beautiful sunset and you praise God for creating such beauty, that is Adoration. We often adore God without realising we are doing just that.
Confession is just admitting to God that we have done wrong. We need to not only admit it but repent of it and change our ways. Each of us sins everyday even if we don't realise it. Bad thoughts are even sin.
The best way to ask for forgiveness of sins is to ask immediately after we have sinned. I've found this to be the best way to break bad habits anyway. You don't need to go through the entire outline for prayer to do this, but when you do have time to have a special prayer time it is good to review your shortfallings of the day and ask forgiveness.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:8,9 KJV
We need to thank God for all of the things He has provided for us. Without Him we would have nothing. Thanksgiving is good for us as we realise just how many blessings we have. You may feel poor until you start counting just how much God has provided for you.
The Bible says "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20
Supplication is asking for our needs and the needs of others. Our prayers are always answered, sometimes with the answer "No" but they are always answered. We don't think this is an answer but sometimes we ask for something that isn't really good for us.
It is important to put our needs before God, because it shows our dependence on Him. If we do our best to follow Him, He will take care of us.
As we put things in God's hands we don't need to worry about anything. Open your hands and picture giving your problems to God and then forget them.
Give thanks to God after you ask him for anything. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Read the verse one more time. Thanksgiving is as important when asking God for anything as asking. It shows our faith that he will answer us.
My advice is to be careful what you ask God for. We needed another vehicle and were looking at car lots for one. I pointed at one of the small Ford Rangers and said "That is what I want." We'd been praying about the problem and God heard me. The only problem was that the truck was more money than we could afford and besides it was red. I hate red vehicles.
We went home and I was browsing through our local shopper and found the exact same truck at a super good price. The fellow that owned it couldn't afford the payments anymore. We went and looked at the truck and it was such a good deal that we could afford it. Guess what color it was - Red. I got just what I said I wanted. Watch what you ask for!! God listens to prayer.
The Bible says "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16b KJV. God does listen to our prayers. Our prayers are important to Him.
1 John 5:14-15 says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of Him." Sometimes the answer will be yes to the prayer and at other times it may be "no." God knows what is best for us.