How Shall We Pray?
Many people earnestly want to pray but they don’t know how. Many others who have been praying for years want to know how to pray better; they know they have not found the full power and joy of a prayer life.
“How” is one of the neglected words in many of our churches. We give people inspiration without explanation; we lift them to the high places of communion with God without telling them how to stay there. One of our ecumenical partners use the practical aid or device of the rosary. I want to give you something that is the equivalent of a rosary.
This is a very simple and definite method or pattern of prayer that can be followed at any time or in any place. It will work at home, in church, driving along in your car, when you are taking your lunch break at work or at school or when you are walking. It is a way that can be used to sanctify the leisure moments of your life, when your mind is in neutral. How many times there are when we can lift our thoughts to God if we will and if we know how!
There are two plans. One follows the word A.C.T.S. When we pray, when we talk with God we should follow the pattern of A.C.T.S:
A = ADORATION (PRAISE)
C = CONFESSION (REPENTENCE)
T = THANKSGIVING (GRATITUDE)
S = SUPPLICATION (ASKING OR PETITION)
Each of our prayers should contain the very essential ingredients of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Our prayers must never be something we are not. Just use the words and vocabulary that you use every day. Never try to use the language of the fancy prayers that are used in church if you are not comfortable with using them. Just talk with God as you would speak with a parent or a good friend. You must use the words you would use in ordinary conversation. Just talk!
The second plan follows the cross, which is a triumphant symbol of our faith in the Risen Christ. It follows a natural sequence and it brings out the variety and richness of our relationships with God, a variety we can experience in even 5 minutes of prayer. The 4 points of the cross have the four (4) essentials of any prayer.
At the top of the cross is Adoration. On the left arm of the cross is Confession. On the right arm of the cross is Thanksgiving. At the foot of the cross is Supplication.
We begin with the top of the cross. It reminds us to look up to God. We call this adoration. We are the only creatures in creation that have power to look up to heaven. We have the capacity for worship that is not given to lesser animals. If we do not use this power, we fail to claim that ability which distinguishes us from other life forms of creation.
We are made in the image of God, and therefore we can relate ourselves to God. We have something of God’s mind, will, and heart. God can speak to us, and we can speak to God. All of these thoughts are in our mind as we begin the glorious act of prayer.
Adoration is a combination of love, wonder, reverence, awe, humility and praise before the majesty, beauty, loveliness, goodness and love of God, who is revealed in the creation of the world, the history of Israel and especially in the life of Jesus. First, we love, adore and praise God in whom we live and move and have our being. We praise God for God’s noble acts; praise God for God’s excellent greatness. Adore God for Jesus Christ. We love God because God first loved us and gave himself for us. (1 John 4:19)
All effective prayer begins in the atmosphere of reverence and love. Our Lord taught us to begin by saying, “hallowed be thy Name.” Only within this setting of true devotion can other forms of prayer have their full meaning. Just as earthly lovers never tire of hearing the words, “I love you” so God, the Great Lover of our Souls, never tires of hearing us coming in loving adoration.
The first and most evident result of adoration will be that you will find yourself, thinking of and remembering to turn to God more often. Practice acts of adoration and it will create a mood, a temper of adoration in you, which will bring with it the gift of knowledge of God. Let us never leave out our praise and adoration of God each and every time we pray!
To be continued…