Growing In Prayer

From the Book

New Beginning
I’ve Accepted Christ – Now What?
A Discipleship Guide for New Believers
(Chapter 12, pp. 129-140)

By Joseph Choi & W. Jae Lee

Once you have familiarized yourself with the Lord’s Prayer and have become comfortable applying it on a daily basis, learning about other ways of praying will break the routine. Believe it or not; it is easy to get into a rut praying if you let it. Consistently seeking God through prayer is a spiritual battle, one that can easily be lost if every effort isn’t made to win it. Prayer is so powerful; we dare not miss out on the medium God has provided for drawing us closer to Himself. The fact that He has included us in His plans is amazing, and His plan is to accomplish His will through our prayers.

James 5:13-16 (NIV) 

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy?
Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick?
Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them
and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;
the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other
and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

 

Apostle Paul told the Colossians that he is constantly praying for their spiritual growth.

Colossians 1:9-11 (NIV) 

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you,
we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God
to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom
and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life
worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,

 

Here is an example of the ministry of intercession. Paul is praying for people he never met to grow in their relationship with God. The apostle Paul is petitioning God to fill the Colossians with “the knowledge of his will,” so they will bear “fruit in every good work,” “being strengthened with all power,” and “have great endurance and patience.” God wants this for every believer so if you would like to know how to pray for any believer, follow the way that Paul prayed for the Colossians. Three more of Paul’s intercessory prayers are recorded in the books Philippians and Ephesians:

Phillipians 1:9-11 (NIV) 
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more
in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able
to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—
to the glory and praise of God.

 

Ephesians 1:15-19 (NIV) 
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith
in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,
16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is the same as the mighty strength

 

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV) 
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 

As you can see Paul doesn’t pray lightly. He prays that every believer reach his full potential, the fullness of God. If God answers this prayer, and He will, we will all become just like Jesus, in whom “the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). Don’t pray light prayers like, “Lord bless him” because how are we to know if He did it. Be specific as possible so there is no doubt that God did it. This way the glory will go to Him. If I pray that God fill you with the knowledge of His will, I will know He has answered when you grow to be more like Jesus. The reason why Paul asks God to fill the Colossians “with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,” is so that they “may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” The proof of being filled with the will of God is a righteous life. When we pray, we’re not trying to cover all the bases so if something happens, we can credit God with the result. Instead, we reason according to our knowledge of who God is so that our prayers are related to what He wants us to do. In this way the more we know God and pray according to His will, the more of our prayers get answered. The reason why Jesus got all of His prayers answered is because He knew the Father’s will perfectly.

We don’t just pray to get God to do something. Is a favor or a task the only reason you talk to your friends or family members? Paul told the Ephesian believers, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). What do you talk about with your family and friends? Everything. What should you talk about with the Lord? Everything, especially strength for God’s people. A very popular and practical way to communicate with the Lord is by praying through the acronym “A.C.T.S.” As explained next the procedure will help you keep in mind the areas to address during prayer. You won’t miss anything if you follow the guideline of A.C.T.S.

 

A.C.T.S.

The acronym A.C.T.S. is a simple method to help new believers to pray: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. This model comes from Philippians 4:6.

Phillipians 4:6 (ESV) 
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Whether we use A.C.T.S. or others such as P.R.A.Y. (Praise, Repentance, Appreciation, & Yearnings), all help to direct us to God. As you mature in prayer, you may decide not to use them because your relationship with the Lord will become more fluid and spontaneous. It will be more like real life. Until you get to that comfortable point, use these guidelines to keep you focused on Him.

Adoration: I (Joseph) remember when my daughter said to me her first word “daddy.” I was thrilled that she would recognize me and honor me by saying “daddy.” God is no different in that regard. God is deserving of our praise, and it pleases our Lord to hear us offer words of adoration. I encourage you to be very specific. Once you get familiar with the Bible, you can read aloud passages that honor and glorify Him or use specific phrases such as “Lord, you deserve all the praise, honor, and glory,” “For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods (Psalm 95:3).”

Confession: Acknowledgment or the declaration of guilt directly to God through prayer clears the way for deeper fellowship with Him. If we knowingly withhold our confession, God is not going to respond. Why should He? God will not be manipulated. We can’t fool Him. Simply say, “Lord, I have sinned against you, I have done _____________________,” “God, this person has hurt me and I have held a grudge toward him for ______. Please help me to let it go, and enable me to forgive him.” The objective is to be honest about our heart condition to an almighty God who knows us and desires to forgive us.

Thanksgiving: People experiencing times of difficulty, hardship, and trials find it difficult to be grateful. However, as a new believer in Christ you understand that your life is now completely different. You have everything to be thankful for. Your eternal destiny has been changed. You have an enduring relationship with the heavenly Father. You have His sovereign protection. When you die, no matter how difficult life may be now, you will spend eternity with Him. You’ll have a brand new body that doesn’t age, never tires, enjoys everything, and lives forever. Comparatively speaking, even if we lived a thousand years full of pain and suffering, next to eternity, that would still be nothing. Any finite number divided by infinity is still zero. Tell God, “Thank you for forgiving me and loving me in spite of my sinfulness,” “Though, I cannot walk, I thank you for this wheelchair that you provided.” It was so encouraging to hear a man born blind say, “The first thing I will ever see is the Lord when I get to heaven.” Not many people can say that. That believer was rejoicing over his blindness, and thankful for the reality of his future with the Lord. With that kind of attitude, I’m sure his present relationship with the Lord is filled with joy and contentment.

Supplication: This part of the prayer model is to make requests to the almighty God. But it doesn’t begin until after you have given God adoration, confession of your sins, and expression of gratitude. Make a request such as “God, please help with ____________.” But be willing to give the request to God so He can bring about the outcome He desires. This is an important principle to follow. Jesus Himself said, “May Your will be done,” knowing that He would die the next day (Matthew 26:42). Jesus entrusted the outcome of His life to His sovereign Father. Even though Jesus experienced an excruciating death, He redeemed you and me. Jesus had in mind His own comfort but submitted to the Father’s will. The result was infinitely better. Had Jesus not gone to the cross, we wouldn’t be writing this book right now and you and I would still be living in sin. Praise Jesus for submitting to the Father’s will.
To close go back to “Adoration.” Praise Him once again before saying, “Amen.” He is deserving.

 

When and How Long to Pray

I am convinced prayer is the determining factor between mild stirrings and deep breakthroughs in life. The difference between mediocrity and greatness is measured by your prayer life. The more we pray the more God works. Jesus demonstrated that prayer was His secret source of spiritual strength and the reservoir of real refreshment. Even when he was very busy, he was never too busy to pray. Prayer was the first of Jesus’ daily activities and appointments and the first item on his calendar (Mark 1:35).
Though you can pray anywhere at any time on any day, it is best to set a consistent time each day. Begin by setting a time either at night or early morning Monday through Sunday. Start with fifteen to thirty minutes of prayer time, including Scripture reading.
I (Joseph) operated my own business for many years and used this opportunity to go into my office early to pray and read my Bible. After a solid time of prayer and the Word, I would turn the sign to “open” for business. Those vital moments with the Lord gave me discernment and wisdom in business matters, helping me to successfully grow the business as I applied Christian principles.

 

Consistent Place to Pray

Going to my office early and on a daily basis prepared my mind to meet with the Lord. I could communicate with the Lord without any distractions. If Jesus had a favorite place to pray during His earthly life, the Mount of Olives was certainly one of them. Inside the Mount of Olives was a garden called Gethsemane which means “the garden of the oil press.” Jesus often went there to pray, and it was there He was found praying when they arrested Him before His crucifixion.
For Moses the place to commune with the Lord was the Tent of Meeting. This particular tent was made sacred because of the divine dialogue that went on inside between Moses and God. When Moses went inside, distractions were minimized, and it made the meeting time with the Lord a very special occasion. Moses would come out refreshed and renewed, ready to handle the stresses of the day. His time with the Lord prepared him to deal with complicated situations and difficult relational issues.

Exodus 33:7-11 
7 Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp
some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.”
Anyone inquiring of the LORD
would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.
8 And whenever Moses went out to the tent,
all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents,
watching Moses until he entered the tent. 9 As Moses went into the tent,
the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance,
while the LORD spoke with Moses.
10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud
standing at the entrance to the tent,
they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.
11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.

 

Journaling

During prayer, I would make petitions and ask questions, often receiving answers directly from reading His Word. As I received answers from the Scriptures, I would write them down and reflect on them. The more I meditated upon the answers, the clearer it became. The clarity helped me make the right decision in what I was contemplating. Spending time with the Lord was amazing every time. God would bring a thought to mind or reveal an insight through His Word, which I would write down. When the messages were not clear, I would pray daily until the Lord gave me clarity. At every crucial decision point of my life, I noticed in my journal that God had not only answered my prayers, but showed me better paths to choose.
We’re all busy, so why add another activity to my schedule you ask? Plain and simple, journaling helps you remember the goodness of God. If we don’t journal, we might forget what God brought to our minds. If He gives direction, speaks to our hearts, or convicts us of something important, shouldn’t we remember them? When God gives us a special dream or a unique vision, journaling will help us not to forget it. Years later, when it gets fulfilled, you can actually trace it back to its origins and remind yourself of the goodness of our great God. During my time of trials and difficulties, I have often looked back on my journal to remind myself of how God had always shown up and prevailed in my situations. He has never let go of His love for me and my family. Let me encourage you to try journaling for 30 days, and if you see the benefits, continue it for one year. After a year, re-evaluate. I predict you won’t be able to stop, but it’s strictly up to you.

 
 

Make sure to check out other posts regarding the series on Prayer!
Importance of Prayer
Understanding the Lord’s Prayer

 

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(book cover)New Beginning I've Accepted Christ-Now What

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