Photo Credit: Trey Ratcliff at www.stuckincustoms.com
There are days when my confidence is shaken, broken, and battered by the constant tumbling of life.
There are times when I come to prayer and feel as if my words are hitting the ceiling, falling flat and lifeless on the floor in front of me.
There are moments when I lose sight of truth and find that facts have invaded my perspective.
Sometimes, it is me. And those are the moments when I realize that I have forgotten the reason I am there.
- Do you ever come to the prayer bench and feel empty, void of the hope that should accompany this time of worship and fellowship?
- Do you ever feel as if your words are not making it above your head but are breathless whispers vaguely heard by you alone?
I need to be honest with you and tell you there are times when I have come to God with nothing to say, simply because I had little or no faith that He was listening.
That was not the truth, then. That is not the truth, now.
It is a lie that holds me back from the promise that nothing can separate me from His love.
As I walk this path toward my King, it is littered by the wayside with things that draw my attention from Him. Sometimes I miss the turn, or I take a detour. Often there are mistakes that take my eyes and my focus off of the finish line.
When we lose sight of the focus, we can also lose the purpose of prayer.
In His sweet grace God has given me the freedom to make choices that will either take me away from His Truth or towards Him, but He always welcomes me back when I screw up. That is the nature of grace. It is limitless in extension. It is boundless in its geography. It is measureless in its depth. We can’t fully understand what He ushers into our lives by this concept of grace, but it is divinely apportioned to each of us out of the abundance of His merciful love.
Grace is the ocean we cross to meet with mercy, but our boat is the Cross and the oars are His hands.
Prayer finds itself bowed before the cross, first seeking mercy, imploring grace, and abounding with thankfulness.
Sometimes when we are floundering in prayer there are a few quick and somewhat easy problem solving questions to ask yourself.
- Are you asking something that is not in line with His Word?
- Are you seeking your will over His?
- Do you have unforgiveness or bitterness in your heart?
- Is there unrepented sin in your life?
- Are you listening to His answer?
When we pray there is always an answer. Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes it is wait. Sometimes it is no. And sometimes, there is no answer at all. Sometimes we just need to TRUST.
Repentant prayer brings us to our knees, which is the start of the revival work our hearts need desperately.
The prayer of repentance brings us to the place where revival is found on our knees. When we let go of the steering wheel and let Him take the lead, we make a choice to go along for the ride, but as a willing partner in this roller-coaster called life.
The glorious truth which is revealed here, is that even if you are at a place where repentance needs to be exercised, an instantaneous change in our hearts takes place as soon as we utter the words. Immediately the doorway is opened to the blessing of heaven and we are restored to the place of our habitation.
I learned an acronym for prayer called ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Briefly I want to address this simple plan for effective prayer:
- Adoration~ This is the heart of purposeful and effective prayer. We pray because he is Holy. We pray out of obedience. We pray because we love God.
When we read the book of Psalms we see many examples of Prayers of Adoration.
The purpose of starting with the reverence and admission of His gloriousness is because it puts us in the place to confess our sins and relinquish our hearts to God.
“True prayer presupposes an attitude of humble submission and adoration to the Almighty God.” ~ RC Sproul
- Confession~ Traveling daily to the throne of grace is a pilgrimage of the soul, which we all need to consider and take willingly.
Bearing freely our lofty ideals at the hill of humility, we come, bowing low. While adoration puts us in the right perspective, confession puts us in right relationship. A life of prayer must be filtered through the daily cleansing that true confession and repentance provides.
Pslam 51 is a beautiful example of the Prayer of repentance.
“We run up daily indebtedness before god when we… do what we ought not to do and leave undone all things we ought.” ~ R C Sproul
- Thanksgiving~ True acknowledgement that all we have is not our own, but a gift, assumes an attitude of thankfulness.
If there is not one more thing in this life that God does for me, and I don’t believe that is the case because He loves to give good gifts. But… if there is nothing more He does for me in this life, I am still willing to praise Him for my Salvation; for the free gift of love He bestows, for the promise of eternal hope and security. We truly are obligated to give thanks, because He has bestowed His blessings upon our lives and He is God.
Thanksgiving is contagious and it is encoded with a heavenly blessing.
It is the fingerprint of a believer to be thankful.
Jesus told us that we should come as little children, in faith and in prayer, because they come with joy and thankfulness in their heart. They are not clouded by the worries and the stress of life to get in the way. They are simply thankful to be alive. We, who are alive in Christ, have even more to express gratitude for.
Psalm 100 edifies the thankful heart of prayer.
“The practice of giving thanks is eucharisteo. It is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to his presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see…… Thanksgiving – giving thanks in everything, prepares the way that God might show us his fullest salvation in Christ.” ~ Ann Voskamp ( One Thousand Gifts)
- Supplication~ To supply, as a reminder, the root of His Word, is a pattern that is both effective and respectful. James 1:5 reminds us to ask for wisdom liberally, as we pray, and we will be promised a full and abundant return on that prayer. God has given us everything for life and godliness all in the context of HIS glorious Word. He has laid it out for us to continually seek, believe, and use.
This is an area where we can easily miss the boat. I bet you are thinking: I have the adoration, confession, and thanksgiving down.. but what is still holding me up.
This area of supplication is where we find our prayers may be hitting a snag and here are a few suggestions:
- Be specific. – If you are asking for something but not being specific, it is hard to gauge whether or not it is being answered. I have always found it hard to be specific because I haven’t always been secure enough in my position before the Lord to ask Him to meet my need with great detail. Sometimes I feel silly asking for things that “I think “ are trivial to God. Let God decide what is trivial. It is usually the breath prayers that come straight from the heart and those barely uttered words are the ones I am recording the most answered prayer to. Those are the ones where my need is abundant and God is in the business of meeting needs.
Psalm 37:4 reminds us he rewards the desires of our hearts when we put Him first.
- Get Real and Repent. – If you have something in your heart that is keeping you back, you need to get real with the Lord and confess what is hindering you. If you don’t know it, then ask Him to reveal it to you.
James 5:16 tells us to confess our faults so that we may be healed and effective fervent prayer avails much with God.
- Wait on God. – Realize that we are subject to His time-clock and omnipotent wisdom, not our own flawed and very faulty attempt at wisdom. Trust that He is both timely and appropriate in His response. Trust that He sees your needs and will meet them. Be assured that He is a GOOD Father whose love knows no bounds.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that there is a time and purpose for everything. God doesn’t make mistakes and is always on time.
- Remember and rehearse what He’s done. – Sometimes we just need to go back and REMEMBER and REHEARSE all the good things He has done in our lives and blessed us with. It helps us get back to that attitude of thankfulness, and where there is a spirit of thankfulness.. there is always abundance.
Pslam 103:1-5 reminds us to bless the Lord for all he has done, healed us, redeemed us, satisfied us, restored us, and benefited us for His good pleasure.
These are just a few thoughts about the concept of unanswered prayer, and it is only a small indentation of my discovery through prayer. I’d simply like to remind you that when we are on our knees.. we are in a place where He can and will revive our hearts. However, it has to start within our heart.
- We have to find that time to get alone with God.
- Release our thoughts, plans, dreams, and hurts to Him.
- Realize that He is Sovereign and deserves our complete devotion.
- Confess those things that are keeping you from His sweet fellowship.
- Pray according to His Word, seeking His will.
- Be Thankful!
“Thankfulness precedes the Miracle.” ~ Ann Voskamp
Praying you will find the blessed peace as you seek Him in prayer today.
Blessings in Prayer!
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