I hope during the past week your life has been enriched by daily prayer. I now look back with you to ancient writings where prayer was often divided into five elements.
1. ADORATION. Jesus said to his disciples, “This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). Hallowed means sacred or consecrated. This calls our hearts out to adoration.
Adoration is prayer at its best. We praise God because he is God. God does not need our adorations but we need them because in pouring them forth we affirm a reality about life.
It’s good to take time in our morning prayers to ponder what we know about God, — he is merciful, loving, all-powerful. This prompts us to adore him, and adoration is like the porch by which we enter the grand cathedral of prayer.
2. CONFESSION. When we are converted to Jesus Christ, he delivers us from the life of habituated sinning. Paul said, “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2). And John writes, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6). We dare not excuse known sin in our lives.
At the same time, Jesus recognized that in our frailty, carelessness or willfulness we transgress. That is why he said, “When you pray say: … forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:2). James also reminds Christians, “We all stumble in many ways,” referring primarily to sins of the tongue.
That is why we rejoice in the salvation that delivers us from the life of sin. We are acceptable before a holy God because of the offering of Christ’s shed blood on our behalf. But at the same time we make a place in our prayers to confess sins we may have knowingly or unknowingly committed – sinful thoughts, hurtful or deceptive words or shameful deeds.
3. PETITION. Our petitions bring personal needs before the Lord. Nothing is too insignificant to include in our prayers. God sees the sparrow fall. He promises, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:8)
Yet there will be perplexities for us in pray. Sometimes the Lord’s answers amaze us. At other times, divine delays test our faith. Sometimes we don’t get the answers we want, and we may even be tempted at times to believe God doesn’t even hear our prayers.
Jesus taught us an important lesson on this matter. Praying in Gethsemane, he cried out for deliverance from a cruel, anguishing death. But he added, “Nevertheless, Not my will but thine be done.” Even in his great anguish he confessed that the Father rules over all.
Therefore, because we don’t know all that God is doing, we pray with fervor but add to our petitions these words, “thy will be done”. The Hebrew letter exhorts, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. (Hebrews 10:27)
4. INTERCESSION. This word means to plead with God for the needs of others. Ezekiel wrote of a time when the walls of the city were broken down and the dwellers were in grave peril. God looked for someone who would build up the walls and stand before him in the gap (Ezekiel 22:30). That’s the picture of an intercessor.
We make intercession a regular part of our prayers, praying for our nation, our community, our church, for family needs and the salvation of loved ones and associates. Daily intercession keeps our prayers looking outward and upward.
5. THANKSGIVING. If adoration is the worship of God for who he is, thanksgiving is an acknowledgment of the blessings he bestows. Here’s my secret: I sometimes find that when my prayers seem to drag if I turn them into thanksgiving this restores the energy of prayer. It’s amazing what forgotten mercies the Lord brings to mind when we turn our thoughts to thanksgiving.
Well, Dear Grandson, I leave you with a thought from Frank Laubach: “Prayer is likely to be undervalued by all but wise people because it is so silent and so secret. We are often deceived into thinking that noise is more important than silence. War sounds far more important than the noiseless growing of a crop of wheat, yet the silent wheat feeds millions while war destroys them.”
Your Loving Grandfather
Photo credit: Nancy Big Crow (via flickr.com)