Friday, March 18, 2011

Prayer (Friday)

Greetings, all. Today (Friday) is the final day of our week of prayer. The focus for today is - ME. Yes, today, we pray for ourselves and our needs. And God is waiting to hear.
The late Bishop William Milton Smith used to say to congregations after introducing a preacher and soliciting prayers for him/her, "And don't forget to pray for yourselves."
After spending time as a church this week in prayer for the pastor, leaders and the church, our focus in prayer now turns to our own needs. Banish the idea that doing so is selfish or mercenary. It does not have to be. We are encouraged to come to God with our needs and requests (Hebrews 4:16).
In the book Too Busy Not to Pray, Bill Hybels gives us a simple formula for prayer which he gives the acronym ACTS –

ü  Adoration. This sets the tone for prayer, reminding us of the God to whom we pray and his power (Exodus 15:11, Psalm 8, Revelation 4:11);

ü  Confession. Hybels calls confession "a neglected act." Perhaps it is because it is hard to admit we need help, even help from God. But confession is necessary for prayer to be effective (Leviticus 5:5, Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 28:13, James 5:16). Eugene Peterson says, "God doesn't seem to be embarrassed to be mixed up with lives such as ours...He doesn't keep his distance from us to protect his reputation."

ü  Thanksgiving. Note the distinction between adoration and thanksgiving. Adoration acknowledges who God is; thanksgiving acknowledges what God has done. It is one thing to feel gratitude, and it's another to express it. Prayer teaches us to express our gratitude (Psalm 103:1-5, Psalm 107:8, Isaiah 63:7, Romans 16:27);

ü  Supplication. We are taught to ask for help when we need it, and God is able to supply it (Psalm 55:22, Jeremiah 33:3, Philippians 4:6).


Put this model of prayer to work today. As Bill Hybels says, "God is interested in your prayers because he is interested in you" (Too Busy Not to Pray, p. 37). So pray for others, but don't forget to pray for yourselves.

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