My weekly bible study group has been on “vacation” since early June, and tonight we start back. As I think about this regular time of getting together, I have mixed feelings. Being a somewhat typical American wife and mother, I’m feeling the pressures of the new school year and still feeling the lingering affects of summer laziness. With that being said, I am super excited about getting back together with the wonderful friends that God has blessed me with. I am always so encouraged by their real desire to grow in Godliness for the purpose of glorifying their Savior.
The way our bible study time is laid out, we get a few minutes of fellowship as we’re waiting for people to all arrive, gather for a short music time, then hear a message from God’s word. Right now, we are going through the gospel of Luke–looking at Jesus’ life through a physician’s eyes. Such a wonderful view of Jesus being both 100% God and 100% man. After study, we split up into our prayer groups. Usually a couple of guys’ groups and a couple of ladies’ groups. This is a great time to focus on how God is using our life circumstances to grow us to be more like Him so that we can be better equipped to bring glory to Him.
The elders at my church have encouraged us to pray in such a way that is less man-centered and more God-centered. To help us accomplish this, they have suggested we use the acronym “ACTS” or “CATS.” The letter “A” stands for Adoration, “C” is for Confession, “T” is for Thanksgiving, and finally “S” for Supplication. This is such a great help for me especially because my prayers tend to be very Supplication-heavy: “Dear God I need…” or “Lord, help me tomorrow with…” I’m not saying these are bad prayers, but whenever I look at prayers modeled in scripture, they are so much more focused on God’s will, God’s promises, and God’s face instead of what God can give physically. Anything that helps me to be more focused on “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done” is a good tool!
One of my favorite preachers/pastors is Chuck Swindoll. This is his “call” to prayer:
“…There is nothing more important we can do when facing situations that are beyond us, than to pray. Prayer forces us to wait, and we must learn to wait patiently for Your [God's] timing. Prayer quiets our hearts before You. Prayer forces us to wait, and we must learn to wait patiently for Your timing. Prayer quiets our hearts before You. We ask that this time of prayer might make a difference in the balance of this day, which we commit to You now, in the name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.”
Excerpted from The Prayers of Charles R. Swindoll, Volume 1, Copyright © 2010 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Having a proper focus on the purpose of prayer is a good start:
I Timothy 2:1-2 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Defining terms and seeing them worked out Biblically is great too!
The act of admiring strongly.
Job 11:7: Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?
Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Psalm 147:4-5 He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and, the Word was God.
Ephesians 2:18 for through Him [Jesus] we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
An acknowledgment of sins to God.
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
Ephesians 1:6-8 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight.
The expression of gratitude (especially to God).
1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
A humble request for help from someone in authority.
Luke 22:41-44 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
John 17:1-12 (*Insert your name for these words to make it personal. Jesus was praying for you too!) Jesus … lifting up His eyes to heaven, said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that *they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; *they were Yours and You gave *them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now *they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to *them; and *they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and *they believed that You sent Me. I ask on *their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of *those whom You have given Me; for *they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet *they themselves are in the world, and I come to You Holy Father, keep *them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that *they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of *them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”
In my prayer group, I want to be so focused on the Lord that I forget what I want so that I can clearly see what God wants for me. These words my Savior spoke just before heading to the cross come to mind:
John 12:27-28 Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say, ‘Father save Me from this hour’? No it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.