PART I: In a blog post from a few days ago, I joked that we at Gospel Light don’t know the basic rules to quality blogging. That is not entirely true; we do know at least one rule: A church blog should not be about the blogger. For one day only, I am going to break that rule. Perhaps what I have to write about my personal prayer life may be useful to you, the reader. [Just a quick note before you read further. This story has a happy ending thanks to the inspired and caring counsel of Pastor Giardino.]
James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another”. I have a confession to make. I’m not all that good at praying. I do pray daily and think of Him often. However…. one challenge stems from my short attention span. I’ll start praying in my thoughts and realize 5 minutes later that, somewhere along the line, I stopped praying and started daydreaming. Another conundrum I’ve encountered stems from the second part of Matt 6:8, “for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Thus, why ask God for anything when He already knows what we need or don’t need? But, of course, this is utter foolishness as God wishes to always and forever be in communion with us. Jesus also commanded us to pray. See Luke 18:1 and 1 Thess 5:17-18.
My biggest problem, thought, comes when I am asked to pray out loud, as some at Gospel Light have witnessed. When I pray silently, I deliberate, pause, and search my heart concerning each thing I say to Him. Believe me, this approach does not work well when one attempts to pray out loud to an audience. I am immensely impressed with those individuals, at Gospel Light or elsewhere, who are able to verbally pray before a congregation or prayer meeting. Often their prayers seem to me polished, practiced and perfect. However, as a slow listener, I can hardly keep up with all the prayer requests being mentioned. I rarely feel as though I’m praying along with the speaker’s prayer, because my mind can’t keep up; I just struggle to listen and, thus, my mind is not on God. Also, I confess that the longer I listen, the more likely my mind will start to wander. Similarly so with my publicly spoken prayers; my mind so is consumed with what I need to say that my mind and heart are not on Our Lord (the One I am supposedly addressing.) Such prayers doubtlessly never make it to God’s ears in heaven. I wonder how many other souls in our church congregation struggle with these same prayer issues.
PART II: In the past, our pastor has taught the acronym, A.C.T.S., as a simple template for prayer. Since most of my readers have seen this before, I need not go into detail. Below are the letters and what they represent in the sequence in which one should properly structure prayer:
A = ADORATION: Begin the prayer by adoring God.
C = CONFESSION: This is when we confess our all our sins to God.
T = THANKSGIVING: This is where we count our blessings, giving thanks to God.
S = SUPPLICATION: This is where we come to the Father asking to supply needs for ourselves and others.
A.C.T.S. is something I will try to remember and use. It makes great sense and it may even help me to pray aloud.
PART III: After reading the above diatribe, Pastor Giardino was not about to let me flounder. Friday evening, he lead me aside and using verses in the holy bible, he explained the vital role the Spirit plays during earnest prayer. He first showed me in Acts 12:5 the power of a church praying together as one. Moving on, he read to me Romans 8:26-27. These verses clearly show the role of the Spirit. Thus, as I stand, sit, or kneel while listening to spoken prayer, the Lord looks into my heart and finds the Spirit making intercession for me. I may not know what to think, nor catch all that is being said, but by having a clean and reverent heart and calling upon the Lord, the mind of the Spirit is what reaches up to heaven. I need not have been so hard on myself after all. As for learning to pray aloud, Pastor G. will teach me how, right pastor? There… a happy ending.