I have always felt comfortable talking to God in private. I speak to him as though to my own father, as we should do because He is our Father. The bible tells us in many places that God expects us to reach out to him: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It tells us “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6.
However, I am not as confident of my ability for public prayer, even when it’s just offering thanks at family meals. I stand aside and leave it up to others. I cannot imagine serving as an Elder and praying in front of the congregation. I feel this is a weakness. God told Moses: “Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” Exodus 4:12. He wants us to be able to witness for Him to others. I feel that public prayer is one of the ways we witness.
So, as part of my Lenten commitment, I began a study of how to pray. As I discussed in an earlier post, I started with Lord, Teach Me to Pray by Kay Arthur. When I had finished the book, I still was not satisfied, so I moved along to Living the Lord’s Prayer by David Timms. This one breaks down The Lord’s Prayer line by line and discusses what it meant at the time and how it relates to our world today. Timms says that our “spiritual formation must percolate through every aspect of our lives.”(p 23 of Kindle version) He explains how he feels a proper understanding of The Lord’s Prayer, as a teaching tool not a rote recital, can be a springboard toward the transformation of our lives.
While I found the book interesting, it still hadn’t helped me formulate oral prayers. So, I went on to Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chapell. Easter has come and gone. I am about halfway through this one. It has been helpful. Well, they have all been somewhat helpful, just not conclusive. One thing that Chapell mentioned in passing, as though it were common knowledge, is using ACTS as a framework for prayer. I had never heard of this and left the book to ask Google what it was.
Google, as usual, offered me many choices. The one I chose is called Prayer Central, a website devoted to Prayer and Devotionals. In case you haven’t heard of it either, ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. This is something I can work with. The website listed several other prayer models as well. I’ve bookmarked it and plan to make visits there part of my study.
I am still reading Praying Backwards. I am finding it the most helpful and engaging of the books I’ve used. If you are looking for a better prayer life, I recommend that you start with Praying Backwards. I like the idea of making sure you put Christ first, even when praying or maybe it should be especially when praying.