About a year ago, I was at a women's retreat with other women from our ministry. We had an afternoon where we did a prayer mosaic - going to different stations and praying through different things in our life, and also praying for different people. I got to the station about praying for different people on campus that needed to accept Christ and asking God what our next step was with these people. I found around 10 girls in my phone that I had either been sharing with or had recently met that I had yet to share the Gospel with that year. (Check out the Top Ten Prayer FREE Printable)
I could share multiple stories from not only praying for these girls and me sharing with them, but to save time, I'll just let you know I got to share with 6 out of the 10 after that retreat. I even got to share with someone completely new because of setting up an appointment with a gal on my list! This girl who came in on our conversation just kept telling me, after I had shared the gospel with her, "Wow! I have never heard this before! Wow!!"
But here is my favorite story (so far) from this prayer list. I got to share the gospel with Nicole at our second retreat last year, and I knew another lady on our staff team was also sharing with her consistently. But I hadn't been as faithful to pray for her to be saved until I put heron my list. By our first retreat this fall, she made the decision to put her trust in Christ!! Later this semester, she came to a prayer night we had at our house. I encouraged everyone there to write down 5 people at home who needed Jesus and 5 people from school, then ask God how to reach them. I then share how Nicole was on my list for under a year until she accepted Christ. During the break, Nicole pulled me aside and told me, "I just wanted to say thank you for praying for me! I had no idea that I was on a list or that someone cared for me enough to keep praying for me." You should have heard her reaction when she found out it wasn't only me, but our whole staff team and her closest friends praying for her too! And little does she know that there were even more when it came to all our supporters and the supporters of our staff also praying. And little do we know who else was involved in this miraculous event for Nicole's life to go from death to life!!
I share this story because prayer is powerful! I have been so unfaithful when it has come to prayer, but God has changed my view of prayer by seeing how much He has done in the lives of a a handful of people just because I specifically prayed. James 5:16b says, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." We often believe the lie that our role in prayer is minimal, where scripture shows us that our prayers are actually effective and powerful.
Knowing that our prayers are powerful and effective, the next question that comes to mind is "How do I pray to the God of the universe?!" This is how I like to relate it to the girls I work with on campus: How do you talk to your friends? Do you have a formal way of talking to them? Probably not! You start by saying "Hi!" and end with "See you soon!" and in the middle you discuss the things that are important to you. Prayer is simply talking to God. In John 15:15, Jesus claims that we no longer are considered slaves but we're considered friends to Him. So it might be helpful to think about your prayer time with God as a coffee date with your best friend.
Next question that may come to mind is, "So, what do I pray for?" Jesus lined it all out for us in Matthew 6:9-13, which says:
Just like when you make a mental list to make sure you bring up certain things to talk about with your friends, there are 4 things to keep in mind when to God which we line out in the ACTS acronym.
A - Adoration : Verse 9 shows us that we acknowledge God, His power and dominion, the truth about Who He is, and attributes certain qualities to God and let's Him know about it. Many people regret sharing how much they loved and appreciated others before they die. Just like we should continue to tell our friends what they mean to us, we need to daily tell God what He means to us. We need to praise Him - He is truly worthy of it, right?!
C - Confession : Verse 12 clearly shares how we need to ask for forgiveness for our wrongdoings. I don't know about you, but when I do something wrong to someone - or if I think I did something to hurt someone else - I feel really out of whack until I ask for forgiveness! I have a difficult time moving onto until I make things right between me and the other person. First John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We need to agree with God on our sin, ask forgiveness, and HE is faithful to forgive and help us move on from the wrong.
T - Thanksgiving : Not only do we need to praise God for Who He is, but thank Him for what He does! James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Just like if your friend gives you a gift - anything that shows that they know you and your current situation - you are emphatically thanking them for being so considerate! God has given us EVERYTHING we need, and even quite a few things we want. Why wouldn't we spend time thanking Him?!
S - Supplication : Supplication is a fancy word for presenting requests. Verses 10, 11, and 13 all are forms of supplication. We need to ask for God for His will to be done in our lives, for our daily needs, and for the the strength and ability to fight through the temptations thrown at us. First John 5:14-15 says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know we have what we asked of him." Asking for people to come to know Christ, that we would become more like Him, that we wouldn't worry, etc. - these all are a part of God's will. First Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." We can pray for the things that cause us anxiety, like tests result, school, troubling issues with children, marriages - you name it!
The best way to know how to pray according to God's will is reading God's word to know what His will is! For example, it's not God's will for us to just attain more material wealth (1 Timothy 6:9-10), so praying for a new car or TV because you're tired of what you have isn't God's will. But God does want people to be saved from their sins (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:8) and He wants us to share the gospel with others (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8). If you need a vehicle to get to the place where you're sharing the gospel, or if you need a TV in order to show the Jesus Film in a different language, He wants to meet ALL your needs according to HIS riches (Philippians 4:19)!
The last question you may have is, "How often should I pray?" First Thessalonians 5:17 says, "...pray continually..." He wants us to keep in continual communication with Him! Sometimes when I pray, I think of it kind of like Snap Chat or a text message. I see someone, "God, I pray that they will know more about you today." I get into a frustrating or awkward situation, "God, what do I do?! Help me get through this in the most Christ-like manner!" I judge someone in my heart, "Oh God, please forgive me for not loving that person the way you have called me to!" I see an amazing sunset on the mountains, "Wow God! Thank you for letting me see this! You are an amazing painter!!" Short and sweet to keep our conversation going throughout the whole day.
- Prayer is powerful and effective, and we have a powerful and effective role.
- Prayer is talking with God, and we don't have to be intimidated on what we say. Think of you daily prayer times like a sweet coffee date with your best friend.
- Remember the ACTS acronym. Adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication should be things you incorporate in your conversation with Jesus.
- Pray continually. Give God a snapshot of your day throughout the day after your daily "coffee date."
Dear God, thank you for teaching me the importance of prayer! Forgive me for having the wrong attitude about prayer in the past - forgive me for not believing You and what you say about prayer!! You are such a huge, amazing powerful God, Who has given everything I need for life and godliness by giving me the Holy Spirit. Thank you for Nicole and all the other girls who have come to know you this past year!! I pray that they will continue to grow more and more in the knowledge of You. I pray that I will be more diligent in the area of prayer. I will need your help to make our coffee dates sweet every morning! In your name I pray.
Leah works with Master Plan Ministries at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Other than watching college students' lives change, she enjoys getting her mind blown by God and His Word, watching sci fi, baking cupcakes, and spending time with her hunky husband.
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