Let’s reflect a bit more about prayer. A helpful device for remembering some of the essential aspects of prayer is the acronym ACTS (like The Book of Acts in the New Testament).
1. “Adoration” This means to praise God for just who he is: good, loving, holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, beautiful, majestic, faithful, source of life, creating, saving, redeeming, etc. (I’m getting excited. Let me stop here and praise the One Who deserves all glory! OK, I’m back.) You can think of many more attributes or find names, titles and attributes for the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Bible. To adore and praise the living God is to do what is deeply congruent with our created nature. We come alive and enjoy the pleasure of admiration and appreciation. My early instruction on prayer, contemplation, meditation and other spiritual practices came from immersing myself in the book, “Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth” (Harper & Row, Publishers, 1978) by Richard J Foster. I read almost every other book mentioned by Foster in that book. He has also more recently written, “Prayer: Finding the Hearts’ True Home” (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), but I have not read it. For a L’Abri approach, you might try, “The Heart of Prayer: What Jesus Teaches Us” (P&R Publishing, 2008) by Jerram Barrs. Also review again my post, “What We Are”.
2. “Confession” This means that entering the Presence of the holy God, we acknowledge that we are sinful. We agree with God about our sins, what we have done and what we have left undone, sinful acts and words but also sinful attitudes in our hearts. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8, ESV) (Yikes! I have something to confess. OK, I’m back.) Now we are ready to hear once again the good news: “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV) If we are disciples of Jesus, that is if we have thrown ourselves into his arms and he is everything to us, God sees us clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the cross with his blood, we are now justified before God, just-as-if-I’d never sinned.
3. “Thanksgiving” It is right that we should thank God for all the good he has done for us and others. In older language: “Forget not all his benefits”. Gratitude is so important for what we can see (epistemology). Gratitude is central to the question of whether each of us will bend our knees and acknowledge God as God. “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom. 1:21, ESV) Our primary role in life should not be that of the critic, squinting-eyed, suspicious. We should be wide-eyed with wonder and thankfulness. You can see so much more and it is much more fun! Thank God for everything: salvation, life, healing, protection, guidance, answered prayers, family, friends, the Church, creation, the fruit of the Spirit, the Word of the Lord, the pleasures of music, your mind, the grace of bodies in motion, the amazing sight of Jack catching a ball and so much more. Read anything in Psalms 103 -107 to get started.`
4.”Supplication” I have already discussed this in “Prayer – Part Uno, etc.”. I will add this though: everyone prays. If one does not pray to the true and living God, one will pray to an idol or just to the “principles” of reality (I’m thinking of so many laughable projects like that guy on Oprah who suggests that just thinking about what you want will cause it to come to you, for instance, money; yeah, – sarcasm alert – try this where there are immediate dangers, like Nigeria, Sudan, etc.), or maybe one will just whistle in the dark or cross one’s fingers. Intercession is supplication for other people, taking hold of God in behalf of others. My Mother has written about this kind of prayer in her book, “A Passion for Prayer” (Regal/Gospel Light, 2012) by Vonette Bright.
Some day I will probably write about the “Jesus Prayer”, from Eastern Orthodoxy, and the “Lord’s Prayer” (really the “Disciples’ Prayer”) and Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 6-7. But the next few posts are to be about other themes I have been preparing.
This post has been powered by “Kathryn Scott – Live At Focusfest” (2009) by Kathryn Scott and “Brother,Sister” (2006) and “It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Alright” (2009) both by mewithoutYou.