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A Prayer Pattern for Learning to Pray - ACTS IN Communion

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By Al Earley

In James 5:16 we read, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” As Christians we are to desire righteousness, that is, we are to live lives as holy as we can. We recognize we will never be free from sin, but we make no excuses. The more we are able to do this the more powerful and effective our prayers will be. I want powerful and effective prayers. What about you?

I think one of the most important ways to live a righteous life and have powerful prayers is to have a solid prayer routine. I have met powerful people of praye, and seen them practice numerous great prayer routines. My prayer routine works for me and I want to share it with you today, in hopes that you will find something useful to sharpen or begin your own prayer routine.

When I am faithful in my prayers I use the acronym “ACTS In Communion” to remind me of six basic prayers of the Christian. The following is a simple summary of each of the six basic prayers. Adoration – praising God for who God is. Lift up God’s greatness, love and spectacular creation. Confession - confessing our specific sins and actions that are contrary to God’s will.

Thanksgiving - Counting all our blessings to celebrate how truly blessed we are.

Supplication - prayers that we will have strong faith and other personal needs we have, including living a righteous life.

Intercession - prayers for others, their health, their work, their family, and their faith.

Communion with God- quiet time when we listen for God’s “still small voice” or “gentle whisper.”

To begin understanding prayers of Adoration study the following Psalms and write down all the things the Psalmist is praising God for: Psalm 8, Psalm 24, Psalm 100, Psalm 139. Then memorize one of these Psalms or any other Psalm of praise and adoration. Once you have memorized a Psalm use it to pray your Prayer of Adoration. Lift up all the things you wrote down while studying the other Psalms. Anytime today go for a walk and pray your memorized Psalm as you adore God, who loves you.

Prayers of Confession are the most frightening. Most people don’t want to know what their sins are. Ignorance is not bliss when we are blind to our sins. Read Ephesians 4:25-32 with pen and paper in hand. Go one verse at a time and as honestly as you can pray about whether you commit any of the sins listed in these verses. Write down any sins that come to light. Once you have finished get on your knees (in front of a cross if one is available), and confess your sins. Then, most important, thank Jesus for His great mercy, that all your sins are forgiven. (Note: Jesus has forgiven all your sins, don’t forget to forgive yourself!)

Prayers of Thanksgiving: thank God for all God has done for us and all the blessings we have received. Now with the pen and paper make a list of all the blessings God has given you. Use these categories to get you started: 1. Blessings of faith, 2. Blessings of family, 3. Blessings of material possessions, 4. Blessings of health, talents, and personality traits, 5. Blessings of being an American citizen. Memorize this list so you can count your blessings everyday for the rest of your life. It will change your outlook on everything if you do this.

A powerful exercise to understand Prayers of Supplication is to read through I Corinthians 13:4-8. Replace the word “love” with your name. Carefully go through each verse and write down all your feelings, thoughts, celebrations and concerns about how loving you are. Make a commitment to pray this prayer, “Jesus Christ, you are my Lord and Savior. I Trust You with my life,” everyday for the rest of your life. How would this change your life and your prayers for yourself if you made it a daily prayer?

Why do we pray Prayers of Intercession, that is prayer for others, to God who is all-knowing and all-powerful? We pray because prayer opens up the floodgates of God’s infinite grace and power to flow toward the person in need. God can act without prayer but He chooses to operate within the boundaries of human will and invitation. He allows us to participate in His work on earth with each prayer. Make a list of all the people who you need to be praying for. If someone has asked you to pray for them make a habit of writing their name down, who asked you to pray, the date of the prayer request, and room to fill in how God answered your prayer.

Once I have finished talking to God through all these prayers I am ready to have Communion with God and listen quietly for God’s gentle whisper to my soul, as is illustrated in I Kings 19:1-13. Ask God questions that concern you and listen for answers. God usually uses the language of silence. Deep within your soul God whispers an insight, plants the seed of a new thought or moves your mind to something you have never thought of. With practice you can learn which voice is God’s and which is your own conscience.

Are there any limits on the power God can grant through our prayer? I don’t think so. I hope you will develop a prayer life where you find this to be true

Al Earley is pastor of La Grange Presbyterian Church. To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see www.lagrangepres.com.