Last week I posted this question up on Facebook and I got some great responses: “Help me out with a new Youth Group series on prayer: If you had to answer the question “What is Prayer?” in one sentence, what would you say?” Here are some of the responses I got:
- “Having a conversation with God.”
- “Being intimate with God.”
- “Prayer is admitting that we are not God and that we need him.”
- “Acknowledging God’s sovereignty as we wait upon him with our cares and concerns.”
- “Pardon+ Praise + Petition = Prayer”
The Apostle Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:6-7). We pray because we have a God who loves us and cares for us. We are invited to bring our anxieties and needs before God, and that He will give us peace beyond understanding. What an invitation!
Prayer, however, is not about us and must not be “me-centered.” When we pray, we must remember who we are praying to. We must remember that it is only by the God’s grace that we are able to pray and be heard by God. We must not treat God as a cosmic vending machine, as if we can put in enough prayers, pull a lever, and get whatever we want. We cannot manipulate God into doing whatever we want Him to do!
The two best ways to teach someone to pray (that I know of) are to follow the Lord’s Prayer, and to understand that A.C.T.S. pattern of prayer. We have gone through a study on the Lord’s Prayer a few years back, so over the next few weeks in youth group we will be looking at A.C.T.S. and what we can learn about prayer out of the book of Psalms.
Here’s a brief look at what the ACTS of Prayer are with a Psalm as an example:
Adoration – Remember who God is
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1)
Confession – Remember who you are and how much you need his grace
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.” (Psalm 51:1)
Thanksgiving – Remember all that God has done for you and thank Him
“I will exalt your, O LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.” (Psalm 30:1)
Supplication – Ask God to supply for your needs and take care of you
- “Help me, O LORD my God; save me in accordance with your love.” (Psalm 107:26)
I believe that most of us live in the land of Supplication. We pray, and we may even pray multiple times each day! But we’re always offering up prayers of Supplication, always asking God to take care of us and supply for our needs. If we are only praying Supplication prayers, we are the ones missing out! There is so much richness to the beauty of praying full prayers, where we recognize who God is, who we are, what He has done, and how much He cares for us.
- Are your prayers always asking for things?
- Who do you pray for the most? Do you spend time pray for others too?
- Is your prayer life vibrant and full, or is it rushed and quick?
- Do you only pray when you really need something?
“You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” A.J. Gordon