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             I do not always communicate with my wife correctly. I know that the previous statement might seem preposterous to some of you (to others who have gotten to know me, it sounds about right), yet it’s true. My wife will ask a question, and depending upon my mood, I will answer accordingly. When I am feeling loving, this works out great for me. The problem is that I don’t always feel this way. Sometimes I am in a bad mood (yes, pastors have them, too) and my response is not always the best. It would have been nice, if someone years ago, would have told me how to communicate with my wife. I would have been even more appreciative if they could have also given me a chart to explain the looks I get. Some are easy to comprehend and some leave me completely baffled and weary.

                Communicating with God (prayer) can seem just as complex, with a much bigger problem. He is God. If I mess up with my wife she might get mad and make my life difficult for a little while, but she does not have the power to sentence me to eternal fire and suffering. God does have that ability. It can be scary and daunting. What if I mess up? What if I say the wrong words? What if I don’t use the correct church term? What if He does not want church terms at all? What if I am too casual? What if I am not casual enough? What if I don’t spend enough time doing it? It is really easy to see why our prayer life can suffer.

                How do we handle this, then? How do we make sure our prayers are heard? How do we pray in a way that pleases God and achieves what we want (yes, it is ok to pray for things and want them to come true.) When I was younger someone taught me an acrostic to help with prayers. It was ACTS. Each letter helped with my prayer. “A” stood for ADORATION. “C” was CONFESSION. “T” was THANKSGIVING. “S” was SUPPLICATION. If I could remember all of them, then I could truly pray the prayers of a righteous man, but was it true? I do not believe that we can simply pray the same exact way every time (nor should we), but as I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I do see the value of trying to remember each part.

                As we go through these parts, please remember that not every prayer is the same. Some prayers are very quick. A simple request then we move on. Some prayers are longer and we have more time to put into it. One thing that we should always remember is that we are to pray, constantly. That does not mean that we pray 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It means that throughout our day we continue to pray. This gives us the freedom to have long prayers and short prayers.

                We should start our prayers with ADORATION. We should show God the proper respect he deserves while also showing our love to Him. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus starts with “Our Father.” The term “Father” was a million miles away from the usual Jewish prayer. They did not say God’s holy name. They simply would say “The Name.” Jesus told us that the favorite title God the Father wanted us to call Him was Abba. Father. Dad. A true close relationship. A relationship built on love and trust. A relationship built on what God has done for us. Once we get this, the adoration becomes easy. He is worthy of our love and desires it.

                We then move to some type of CONFESSION. We must realize that sin separates us from God. I am not implying that each sin you commit will keep you from heaven. If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then that matter is settled. You are forever his child. No sin after salvation will keep you from Him, but unconfessed sin in a believer’s life will separate you from the closeness of Him. We must be honest with God. We must acknowledge that there are places in our lives that need confession, repentance and forgiveness. One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 24. David asks “who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?” The answer was only “One who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, or who has sworn deceitfully.” Only after confession can we truly take our place in the throne room of God.

                The next part of prayer is THANKSGIVING. We get to say “thank you” to the One who has given us so much. We get to express, with joy, the goodness that has been given to us. As a father, I love when I give gifts to my kids and they say thank you. I love the words and the hugs that accompany that. My kids have been given something good, and they show their appreciation. I know that it is easy to look at our lives and at times think that we have nothing good in them.  I’ve been there and done that. The truth is that even when it looks the darkest, God has still given us more good things than we could ever imagine. Our darkest days still have shining light in them, even if it takes the morning time for us to see them.

                The final part of prayer is SUPPLICATION. Supplication is the big church word that simply means to ask for something. For some of you, asking God to provide things, is not a problem. I am not one of them. I, wrongfully, grew up believing that God loved me, but He was much too busy and had much more important things to worry about than me. Running a universe and providing miracles were at the top of His to-do list. Answering my little requests was something that He might get to if He had time. I have since learned how wrong I was. My “little requests” were important to Him. I was important to Him. He takes great pleasure in the joy of his children. I matter to Him. You matter to Him. Jesus taught us to pray for forgiveness AND daily bread. The spiritual and the physical matter to God. I can go boldly into the presence of God because I am His child through the shed blood of Jesus. This gives me the right to ask Him for the things I want.

                The next article will be about how God answers our prayers. The great thing is that you do not have to wait for it to pray. As you go throughout your day praise God (Adoration), admit your weaknesses and shortcomings (Confession), acknowledge the good that you have been given (Thanksgiving), and please ask Him for the things you need (Supplication). He is your ABBA (not the silly little Swedish band.) He is your Father. He longs to hear from you today.

Marty

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