Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
As a Christ-follower, I have a laundry list of things, important things on my prayer list. Children, finances, job issues, friends going through tough times – I can go on. God I need this. God, I want you do that. I don't know about you, but when I pray this way, focusing on my laundry list, my prayers seem like they bounce off a brass ceiling, and fall to the ground around me. I'm not saying that we shouldn't pray for situations like these, Yet if all I do is ask for stuff, it's not long before I sense something in my prayer life is missing. I wind up spiritually dry and unexcited about the eternal.
There are no rules when we pray, yet God's Word gives gentle instructions. We can't manufacture God's power. Yet when we pray, and follow his pattern, He promises He WILL show up. The purpose of a prayer ministry, any prayer ministry, is to find and follow God’s pattern in order to find God’s promised response. Based in God's Word, we know when we pray and wait expectantly, our Heavenly Father does what we can't. The acronym ACTS is a great way to focus on his pattern as a guide.
Adoration (Praise): Psalm 100 says: “Enter into God's gates with thanksgiving, and come into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him, and bless his Holy name. (Ps 100.4) When we gather together, intercessors should resist the temptation to start with our laundry list. Instead we take time to praise, and worship God for who He is. We take time to recognize we are coming into the courts of the Creator of the Universe, and He is worthy of our praise.
Confession: Psalm 66.18 says: “If I regard, (or hold onto) iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Jesus encourages us to take this idea seriously. He says that when we come to worship, if we remember that we have something against someone, that we should leave our sacrifice, and reconcile or make the situation right before we come to worship. Does this mean I have to be perfect before God will hear my prayers? No. It means that God expects that we live what we say we believe, and do what we can to live in right relationships with others.
Thanksgiving: Phil 4.6 says: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Thanksgiving naturally flows from a heart that is filled with worship, and that has been cleansed of sins. We are naturally thankful when we can see God's greatness, our humanness, and how Jesus has bridged the gap. Thanksgiving differs from praise and worship in that worship lifts up who God is, thanksgiving focuses on what God's done.
Supplication (Intercession) : 1 Thess 5.16-18 says: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Finally we get to our laundry list, but when we start by focusing on God, and his requests of us, theirs is a change in my attitude. After focusing on God's glory, dealing with our sins, and spending time thanking Him for all the things He's done in our lives, my laundry list isn't all about me anymore. It's about God, His glory and how we can be a part of His plans.
If you’re involved in a prayer ministry or prayer group at your church, I challenge you to change your focus for the next few times you gather. Put your laundry list in the pocket of your bible case until you spend time in God’s presence, longing for him instead of stuff. In Jeremiah 29.11-13, God says that when we seek him, we will find him, when we search for him with all our hearts. The condition resides with us. We have to lay down our agenda, our to do list, our expectations and wait on him before we will see clearly to pray according to his priorities.