Do you struggle to pray? Sometimes I do, or I would say quite often we struggle to keep our focus on the Lord in prayer, and our mind wants to go somewhere else. This can be a frustration to many people and will cause them to lose hope regarding their spiritual life. There have been times when I have felt as if my prayers made no difference because of the lack of focus I had, It has been such a fight to keep my mind set on God so that I have been close to give up.
Some people need structure to cope, and others can go on anyway. There is no set formula, or nothing which is biblically right or wrong. The bible speaks both about spontaneous, and structured prayer. But there are some important ingredients that has to be included when we communicate with God, and what I am going to share with you is a common model of prayer which many people use to structure up their prayers in order to make it easier to focus. It has been known as the “A.C.T.S prayer”. It is basically a free and spontaneous prayer, but consisting of four steps: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. Let this structure lead you into a more focused and powerful prayer life:
When we approach God in prayer we must first and foremost acknowledge who He is. We need to proclaim Him as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and our dear loving Father. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He first started His prayer with “Our Father”. And then “hallowed be thy name” (Mt 6:9). Begin by praising God for who He is. Declare His character and His power. When our eyes are focused on who He is, the whole rest of our prayer becomes so much easier. We stay more “Jesus centered” throughout our prayer, and our own problems become small in the presence of His glory and majesty when we start with Him. Never start your prayer by focusing on your needs, then you are starting in the wrong end, and your prayer becomes “problem focused”. Life is all about God, so begin by acknowledging who God is.
Some people prefer to pray the CATS prayer, and begin their prayer with confession in order to clear the way for an intimate fellowship with the Lord, but most of the times I choose to give God the respect by starting with Him and not myself when I pray. Life isn’t about me, it’s about God. So not until I have approached Him in the right manner can I ask Him to forgive me and remove my sins. Righteousness is a precious gift not to be taken for granted, so even though I know it belongs to me by the blood of Jesus, I am deeply thankful for it and I value it with respect. Therefore I first adore Him, and then confess my sins.
When you come before the Lord, know and confess that you are a sinner and you are in need of His forgiveness in order to become righteous. Be specific and confess each sin as you remember them. Ask for His forgiveness and His precious blood to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Acknowledge your need and dependence on him and make a decision to repent and turn away from your sin, with His help and by His grace. Sometimes God may also want you to go to a specific person and ask for forgiveness. This will be more difficult for you because it hurts in the flesh, but when you feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to do so, there is nothing else to do than to yield to it, even if it hurts. Because after that, you will have a clear conscience. When you confess sins it is very important that you are also willing to leave those sins and change your lifestyle. Don’t ask for forgiveness with the attitude that you are planning to continue with those sins, and another important thing to remember; don’t hold on to the shame that follows a sin. Once you are forgiven, it is gone forever. Jesus took your sin and your shame.
There are many things to be thankful for in life. If you don’t have much to be thankful for you have a problem. Then you need to spend more time here and really come down on your knees. Make a list of all things and begin to praise God for it. When you do that you will discover how much He has actually been involved in your life without your knowledge. Thank Him that you are alive, that you are saved, have a house, family, friends. Just the fact that you know the Lord shows that He has been active in your life, because no one comes to the Lord without the Father drawing Him towards Himself. So don’t ever think that God has done nothing for you. You dont deserve anything from Him, yet still He has been faithful in every chapter of your life. There is always a reason to be thankful to Him.
Many people spend far too much time here. It is like their whole prayer life is a constant begging for their needs to be met. Don’t rush through the other steps just in order to come here, and don’t let this step be the focus of your prayer. Your needs are valuable and precious to the Lord, and He wants us to make our requests known unto Him. But relax and enjoy your fellowship with Him more than worrying about your needs. God will take care of you.
When you have gone through all these steps it is not yet time to say Amen.
There is a reason why God gave us two ears but only one mouth! He has something to speak to you personally, every day. Take some time before you finish to listen to God, because surely He has something to tell you. Prayer is not a monologue, it’s a dialogue. You speak to God and God speaks to you. This is the time when you will get really intimate with God. Many people forget this part, and that’s the reason why they feel that they have such a poor and empty prayer life. The world is pushing and stressing us so that we barely get time to slow down and listen to God. Your prayer becomes rich only when God is in it. We need to give Him space to act, and time to speak.
These are the steps which have helped me when I have felt as if there was nothing to pray, and of course: Don’t forget to pray in tongues. In whichever step you are praying, include the heavenly language also, because there are things you need to pray out which you yourself don’t even know about. When you don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit will help you, and pray through you. So take these advises and begin to enjoy a free and focused prayer life.