Practice of Prayer
Relationship—not mere results and outcomes - is at the heart of prayer. As in any relationship, communication is essential to us properly responding to the story God is weaving around us.
- Prayer that God’s will be done reminds us that He is in control and we are but needy children before him.
- Our daily struggle against sin and temptation is greatly aided when we solicit the help of the One who overcame sin and death, once for all. Hebrews 4:14-16
How do I pray?
- A helpful acronym to pray through is ATRIP … you may say that prayer involves going on A TRIP with God:
Adoration—Begin by worshipping God and “setting the terms of discussion” properly. The Psalms and even your favorite modern worship songs and hymns can be tremendous helps here. Try Psalm 96
Thanksgiving—Prayer provides a wonderful opportunity for us to thank God for his various blessings and struggles in our lives. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Repentance—Our ongoing struggle with sin can damage our nearness to God. In prayer, we can confess our sin to God and ask that he minister grace and forgiveness to us as we pray. Hebrews 4:16
Intimacy—In normal conversation, we share our burdens, distractions and random musings. God invites us to do the same with him. See Psalm 6
Petition—This is the part with which we are most familiar. God welcomes his children to ask boldly and often whatever we desire. A great practice here is to keep index cards on which you record prayer requests and how God answers them for different people and areas of your life. You will remind yourself what to pray for and that your efforts are worthwhile because God answers prayer.
When Should I Pray?
- For most people—including Jesus! (Mk 1:35) - early morning provides the greatest opportunity for a consistent prayer rhythm.
- Praying first thing in the morning, as Pastor John Piper says, strikes the first blow in that day’s battle against sin. Praying first thing in the morning also sends a strong message to our hearts that dependence on God is the primary resource with which we will face and overcome the challenges of the day.
- In the Old and New Testaments, God’s people are often said to have prayed three times a day (morning, noon and night). See Daniel 6:10, Psalm 55:17 and Acts 3:1, 10:3. For families, dinner and bed times are great to pray with the kids.
With Whom do I Pray?
- Answer: just about anyone! The closer the relationship, the more often we ought to pray together. Spouses can pray as they settle into bed at night. Roommates can set regular times of prayer in the rhythm of their lives together. The same for parents and children. Boyfriends and girlfriends, friends, teammates, co-workers … any relationship can be significantly deepened and increasingly centered on God by intentionally praying together.
- Scripture often suggests that prayer in community with others is particularly powerful and effective. James 5:15-16 (think Missional Communities)
Where Should I Pray?
- Our access to God is not limited to particular places or settings. Still, it can be helpful to set aside a particular area in your apartment, home or office where you go to pray. Don’t pray in front of your laptop, in the chair from which you watch TV or in the middle of the busiest room in your home. Commuters have a great opportunity to pray in cars, buses, trains on the way to and from work. Capitalize on whatever solitude you are provided!
Help Along the Way
- The Scriptures—easily the greatest aide in prayer. Open a passage, meditate on what you’re reading line-by-line and then turn your thoughts into prayer.
- A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller—a helpful guide to the challenges of “connecting with God in a distracting world”
- The Valley of Vision—a collection of prayers that can help guide your own. The old schools seem to say things better than we can.
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