Why Pray?

A lot of good things will happen to you even if you don’t pray, and a lot of bad things will happen to you even if you do pray. We expect God to send blessings to His friends, but He also showers blessings on His enemies, because they are His enemies and He would like for them to become His friends. He loves His enemies as well as His friends. That’s the good news of the gospel.

Are we only friends with God because of what we hope to get out of Him? If that is our only reason for serving God — to try to gain His blessings for ourselves — then are we really His friends?

The primary purpose of prayer is communication with God. It is not to get answers. ["Answers" refers to blessings. We always receive a response, but may not get the answer we are after.] While it is true that our primary purpose is not to get "things" from God, it is also true that we have been invited to ask Him to meet our needs, and even our wants.

So, don’t forget: it is always right to ask! We have been invited to ask. God wants us to ask. We may not receive what we expect, but we are always welcome to ask. ...But the most important reason why we pray is to enter into the deepest fellowship and communion with Him, as He shares His thoughts with us and pours out His heart to us, the way He longs to do.

 

The ACTS Map

  1. Draw three horizontal lines across a sheet of paper to divide it into four sections. At the top of each section, write one letter of ACTS.
  2. Adoration. In section A, write a paragraph of adoration to God. Admire Him for who and what He is. Tell Him why you love Him. Tell Him what you appreciate about Him.
  3. Confession. In section C, write a paragraph of confession. Be specific rather than general. Tell exactly what acts you did that were wrong. What thoughts did you think that were sinful? Ask God’s forgiveness for what you have confessed.
  4. Thanksgiving. In section T, write a paragraph of thanksgiving. Express your gratitude for specific things the Lord has done for you—prayers answered and blessings bestowed.
  5. Supplication. In section S, write a paragraph about your needs. What is it you want Him to do for you, your family, and your friends today? Be as concrete and specific as possible.
  6. Now go back and read your prayer to God. Then sit quietly for a few moments to listen for what He wants to say to you.
  7. On a sheet of paper, write the alphabet vertically down the left side. Use the back if you run out of room. Set a stop watch or time for five minutes. See how many words you can list that describe God. Try to get at least one for each letter of the alphabet. Use this list to guide you in the adoration part of your prayer for one month. Use words that start with a different letter each day.
  8. Get a basket. Place in it objects that will remind you of something for which you are thankful. For instance: house keys—my comfortable house; leash—my dog Matt; marriage license—33 years of marriage; binoculars—the 10 new birds I’ve added to my life list; an airplane ticket—a recent vacation; passport—freedoms I enjoy; etc. Keep going until your basket is full. Then take out one item each day and use that as the basis of your paragraph of thankfulness.
  9. On a sheet of paper, write the letters of your name in a vertical position. Beside each letter, think of things or people whose names begin with that letter for which you feel genuine gratitude. Use that for your thanksgiving paragraph on one day.
  10. Find a psalm that expresses your feeling of adoration, confession, or thanksgiving. Copy portions that appeal to you as part of your ACTS prayer.
  11.  

    Intercessory Prayer

    Intercessory prayer is the one type of prayer that God delights to answer above all others. When you pray for others, you are joining with the great Intercessor: Jesus prayed for others more than for Himself. He prayed for you! (See John 17.)

    One of the evidences that prayer works is that when we pray for others, even without their knowledge, our prayers make a difference. Remember three things: (1) you are making the request on behalf of a friend in need; (2) the One you are asking has what is needed; and (3) you and the One you are asking are also friends!

    God is willing to give and delights in responding to our requests. But there are times when He is silent for a time in order to test the genuineness of our desires, of our trust in Him.

     

    The TRIALS Trail

  12. What is your trial? On a sheet of paper finish this sentence: "My trial is...."
  13. Write the letters of the word TRIALS vertically down the left-hand side of your paper. Write a one- or two-sentence prayer that fits into each section, such as:

    T-Thanks. Thank God for your trial.

    R-Request. Request Him to show you what He wants you to learn from this experience.

    I-Invite. Invite Jesus to walk through the trial with you.

    A-Affirm. Affirm your faith in God and His promises.

    L-Lean. Lean on Jesus as you go through the trial. Turn to Him often to discuss your problem and receive strength.

    S-Surrender. Surrender your situation and yourself to God. Allow Him to deal with you however He sees fit.
  14. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. In the first column, list trials that you have experienced. In the second column, list how God helped you through each trial. When you are finished, praise God for the many times He has seen you through a wilderness experience.
  15. Make a list of trials you have experienced. Alongside each trial, write at least one lesson you learned from that time of trouble.

 

The PART PLAN

Get a looseleaf notebook, paper, and eight section dividers.

Write one of the following words on each divider tab: Praise, Admit, Requests, Thanks, Passages, Listening, Awareness, and Notes. You don’t have to write something in each section every day. Adjust the plan to your own devotional needs.

My PART

P-Praise. Copy a psalm or write a praise poem of your own on one page of the Praise section. Date your entry. The next day, skip a space and write a new love letter to God. Praise expresses your feelings toward God because of who He is, not for what He does for you.
A-Admit. On a page of the Admit section, write out a confession of your sins. Look back of the past 24 hours and ask God to show you where you have failed Him. Be specific in your confession. Then, open your heart to receive His cleansing and forgiveness.
R-Requests. Draw a vertical line one inch from the left-hand side of your page. This column will be used to date your requests. Draw a vertical line one inch from the right-hand side of the page. This column will be used to date the answer received. In the middle column, list your requests. Don’t hesitate to list your wants as well as your needs. Also include your intercessory prayer for others.
T-Thanks. Put in today’s date and write a thank-you note to God. Express your sincere appreciation for blessings sent your way, gifts given, trials permitted, and prayers answered.

God’s PLAN

P-Passages. Here you record powerful passages of Scripture that speak to you. When you find a verse that touches your heart, stop to look it up in other versions and in the SDA Bible Commentary. Write down your thoughts about this verse, including a paraphrase if you wish. If you limit yourself to one text per page, you can later file these according to the Bible book or topic; after several years, you’ll have your own commentary.
L-Listening. Take time to listen for God’s voice. Sit quietly for a few minutes and wait for the Holy Spirit to speak. Ask Him to reveal His thoughts and plans for your life. Write down impressions that come to you. Test your impressions against Scripture.
A-Awareness. Become aware of lessons God wants to teach you in nature. Spend some time contemplating a part of God’s creation; write down the object lessons you see. Try to find something beautiful or interesting in nature to record each day. If you sense a lesson for life, write it down; if not, just thank God for the beauty He made for you to enjoy.
N-Notes. Here you will include the notes you made of sermons or seminars. Take your notebook with you to church, retreats, and prayer meetings. Date the page and make note of the speaker. Outline the main points and jot down Scripture references. Taking notes will increase your ability to concentrate as well as clarify the message the Holy Spirit has for you in each presentation.


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