God is great and God is good, let us thank him for this food. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…
Why is it that many churched people never move beyond the simple prayers we teach our small children? God is great and he is also good – but he is so much more than words mentioned over a meal or before sleep. Prayer is more than superstitious superficial words dropped with the intention of gaining God’s approval or his attention.
Prayer is the mode of communication that God has provided that we might interact on a personal level with him. He wants to hear from us, and will speak to us if we will put forth the effort to be still and listen.
Hail Mary prayers tossed up while we find ourselves in self-inflicted crisis are not heart felt but words hurled in desperation. Rehearsed prayers repeated over and again are not effective. Jesus himself tells his followers not to “babble on and on like the pagans do.” (Matthew 6:7)
Many “believers” are afraid to pray publicly because they fear what others might think of their proficiency or vocabulary. This is on the same level as those who fear to be expressive in worship because of what others may think. The enemy keeps most “Christians” anemic and weak in their spiritual walk as they worry about others instead of approaching God with a singular focus.
The model prayer that Jesus left for his disciples in Matthew 6:9-13 contains 4 basic components which provide a base level of communicating with God. The entirety of the prayer can be summed up in the acronym ACTS.
A – adoration and acknowledgement of who God is
C – confession of sin which separates us from God
T – thanksgiving for all the blessings God provides
S – supplication or request for God’s intervention
This is not a magical formula guaranteed to provide exactly what we want from God.. It is merely a good format whereby we first recognize the greatness and goodness of God, then assure that repentance clears the air between us and God. After recognizing how amazing God is and making sure we have humbled ourselves before him, we then thank him for what he has already done and is doing in our lives. By this time, the horrendous issues that seem about to eat our lunch begin to seem less ominous because we have recognized the strength, power and might of the One who has promised never to leave us or forsake us. Our prayer “list” gets a different focus, and we begin to understand how much God is already doing.
This opens our minds to remember others who need God’s intervention in their lives. Likewise, as the emergency and panic dissipate, we are enabled to calm ourselves and be still before the Lord. It is in these quiet moments that God opens our minds to the possibility of hearing from him. Though never in an audible voice, the Holy Spirit reminds us of what we have forgotten to bring before the Lord, as well as what God may want us to do for his kingdom and glory.
God is great, and God is good. Why not really dig in and find out how great and good he really is.