“Prayer is to move and oblige ourselves, not to move and oblige God.”
Session Overview: Praying Through the Bible
Prayer is a foundational part of the Christian life, and may verses in the Bible remind us of that. Here are just a few examples:
James 4:3, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words.”
Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near and listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do now know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”
Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Sometimes it can be hard or confusing to know how to pray, but if we ask God he will teach and help us to pray. There’s a simple exercise below that may help you become more confident in prayer as you study the Bible. A helpful tool that you may be familiar with is the acronym A.C.T.S.
“A” is for Adoration
“C” is for Confession
“T” is for Thanksgiving
“S” is for Supplication
The idea is to include each of these letters in your times of prayer. Adoration is giving praise and honor to God for who he is. Confession is dealing honestly with sin in our lives by repenting and seeking God’s forgiveness. Thanksgiving is acknowledging and telling God what you are grateful for in your life and the world around you. Supplication is making requests for the needs of others and ourselves.
Because God is holy and we are sinners, we must remember that without the Bible shaping our hearts and minds, we tend towards poor prayer. Challenge yourself to spend time forming your prayers around the things you read in the Bible. You can start by applying A.C.T.S. to your Bible reading, asking questions like:
“How is God revealed or glorified in these verses?” Praise him for that.
“Are there any sins that come to mind which are actively present in my life?” Confess those things to God.
“How am I reminded of God’s blessing and encouragement?” Thank him for that.
“Are there any physical, spiritual, or emotional needs in my life or the lives of others that only God can take care of?” Ask him to show his love and mercy by meeting those needs.