Do you pray? According to The Pew Research Foundation, 64% of Americans do not. But, my question is not for them, it is for you. Do you pray? How often, how long? My guess is if people were to answer I'd have responses from prayer warriors and prayer beginners and even those who have lost that praying feeling.
Here's the reality, praying can be challenging for even the most seasoned Christian. This is why we launched the 10 Minute Prayer Challenge on Sunday. When a national survey was conducted from thousands of Christians the question was asked, "What is the biggest disappointment in your Christian journey?" 86% of the respondents said, "My prayer life."
Many respondents said they just don't know where to start, what to say, or how to go about it. They end up feeling like it's a waste of time trying to think of things to pray or say. Or, they feel like they pray the same general things and the redundancy just causes them to quit after a while.
I think we want to be more connected to the Lord, we want to dig deeper in our faith and sense a closeness to the Lord like David in Psalms. But, there's something I believe that hinders most Christians. It is the ideal over the real. Too many Christians think that in order to have a genuine prayer life or a genuine prayer experience that it must be INTENSE.
Some people think if they're not crying or screaming or sweating they must not be serious about prayer. The truth is, God is looking for consistency over intensity. To be sure, there may be times of intensity, but that is the exception, not the rule. When the Apostle Paul said, "Pray continually,” (1 Thes. 5:17) he was thinking of consistency not intensity.
The key to understanding how to be consistent is found in ACTS. Not the book of Acts but the prayer pattern known as A.C.T.S. This is a pattern that has been utilized by countless Christians over the years to help jump start their prayer life and help them stay consistent. The pattern is this:
When it comes to the 10 Minute Prayer Challenge, take 2 minutes on each of these prayer categories. Literally, you can put your stopwatch to it. You'll be encouraged at how fast the time goes by and it will be a catalyst to more time spent in prayer over the year.
When beginning the ACTS prayer pattern, make sure to start with 2 minutes of clearing your mind. Have a notepad or a phone app with you to mark down the "to do" tasks and other distractions that come to your mind. That way it is captured and it won't be a mental distraction. This may take longer than 2 minutes, but make sure you take time to quiet your mind and heart as it says in Psalm 131:2.
Adoration is simply worshipping God. Take time to focus on His greatness. Acknowledge Him as the Creator of the Universe and the One who created you. You might pray some of the psalms. Many of the psalms are simply prayers of King David. We can recite those same heartfelt prayers. Or, you might sing or listen to some worship songs. The goal is to put your heart and mind in a place of worship.
Confession is simply admitting what we've done wrong. We need a clean slate every day. We need to confess sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are the ones we know we did wrong. Sins of omission are the ones we committed and didn't realize. We simply come to the Lord in prayer and admit we've done some things we realize and we may have done some things we did not realize and we ask for His forgiveness. During this time, God may bring to mind people we need to reach out to and apologize with a call or a text.
Thanksgiving is self-explanatory. We need to take time to be thankful for what God has done and for what He will do. We need to be thankful for the people and the things in our life. This is one of the healthiest things you can do mentally. A plethora of scientific studies have shown the incredible health benefits of having an attitude of gratitude. God told us this thousands of years ago and I'm so glad science is beginning to figure it out too.
Supplication is simply asking God. After you've taken time to worship God, confess sin, and give thanks, it's OKAY to get out the "shopping list." And let me encourage you ... BE SPECIFIC. Have a prayer journal or app. Write down specifically what you're asking God for. It is such an encouragement to your faith when God specifically answers your request. Write down the answer, the date, and any other details of God's answers. You will be able to return to this time and time again to encourage your faith when you need it.
2 minutes: Clear your mind
2 minutes: Adoration
2 minutes: Confession
2 minutes: Thanksgiving
2 minutes: Supplication =
10 minutes of consistency in prayer.
By praying the pattern of ACTS you begin to develop a consistency in your prayer life that will absolutely deepen your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly you will never be the same ... now that is INTENSE.