Real life-change is found in practicing the spiritual disciplines that Jesus himself practiced and taught his disciples. Prayer is one of those critical spiritual disciplines.
Prayer is vital to spiritual health and offers many spiritual benefits. Luke 5 tells us that “Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” Jesus was perfect—yet he prayed! Sometimes we are reluctant to pray because praying invites a conversation with God about something He has identified that needs to change. But prayer is instrumental to life change. An anemic prayer life might explain our selfishness, lack of compassion, impatience, our preoccupation with temporal things rather than eternal things. Prayer  assures us of God’s presence (Psalm 145: 18),  brings blessings from God (Matthew 7:11),  brings help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16),  brings peace in the midst of anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7),  brings physical and spiritual healing (James 5:16),  brings wisdom (James 1:5), and  strengthens us against temptation (Matthew 26:41).
Jesus gave us several guidelines which help us learn to pray more effectively: [a] Pray secretly (Matthew 6:5-6). This ensures a minimum of distractions and it eliminates the temptation to try to impress others. Jesus is not discouraging public or corporate prayer in this passage, rather, he is encouraging private prayer between you and God. [b] Pray sincerely (Matthew 6: 7-8). This involves being real, natural, and vulnerable. Finally, [c] Pray specifically (Matthew 6:9-13). Jesus does not give us an exhaustive list of what we should pray for, but he does instruct us how to do so. In verse 9, he indicates that we should pray for God’s honor to be upheld, for God’s kingdom to be established, for our daily needs to be met, for our sins to be forgiven, and for victory in temptation.
The “ACTS” acrostic is a helpful pattern for prayer: [A] Adoration Begin your time in prayer by worshiping and adoring God–His sovereignty, power, goodness, grace and mercy. [C] Confession Confess your sins to God, while thanking Him that you are forgiven, and don’t allow Satan to make you feel guilty over your sins. [T] Thanksgiving Acknowledge that you have been greatly blessed, so thank Him for answers to prayer, material blessings, spiritual blessings, and relational blessings. [S] Supplication This is where you specifically pray for others in the following four categories—ministry, people, family, personal.
We all can learn to pray as a lifestyle. We can have an ongoing conversation with God throughout the day. By practicing His presence, we admit our dependence and obedience to God and makes our relationship with Him more genuine and real. He is always available, and always willing to talk—anywhere!
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Develop the personal habit of spending time daily with your Father in prayer.
- Participate in TCC’s corporate opportunities for prayer, such as:
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)