Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know what they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few...therefore stand in awe of God.
- Ecclesiastes 5:1-2,7b
God desires to hear his children pray. He made us, formed us (Psalm 139), and placed love in our hearts for Himself and for others. Thus, it's good to pray and express our hearts to God in worship and petition.
But how should we bring our petitions to God? Should we back up and dump our dump truck's worth of concerns on Him and then move on with our lives? Should we badger or filibuster God to get our way (plead God's ear off to do something our way because we think we know the best possible outcome if we do)? Or is there a better, more God-honoring way?
Paris Reidhead, a 20th Century pastor, wrote a little book titled, "Beyond Petition: Six Steps to Successful Praying.
" In it, he outlines a pattern for praying that I believe presents a well-balanced way to approach God in prayer- anytime and anywhere!
Prayer of Affirmation
Prayer of Confession
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Prayer of Praise
Prayer of Wisdom
It goes beyond the common A.C.T.S. (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication/requests) format to include:
Affirmation: confirming that God loved you even while He knew the worst about you. He first loved you. Nothing you've done has earned his love. He loved you first and He loved you to Himself. That's why you love Him and follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. David and Solomon prayed prayers of affirmation, and so can you as you pray.
Wisdom: This is a prayer that's a request to God; asking Him how you should pray. Prayers of affirmation, confession, thanksgiving, and praise (listed above) have not asked God for anything. They establish and grow awe and wonder of God in our hearts and minds (and are important as we pray).
The prayer of wisdom is the first request offered in this format of prayer. It serves to seek God's heart and thoughts on a matter or concern before we launch into pleading for God to do something we'd like Him to do for us. It requires first asking Him of His opinion, and then listening, waiting, and being still (remember Psalm 46:10?) to hear His answer(s). It may also require you to invite others to join you in praying for God's will to be discerned in the matter (this is different than asking somebody to join you in praying for a specific outcome you desire prior to first hearing from the Lord. To pray in that manner would be to potentially invite others to partner with you in badgering God for your will to be done!). There's a difference between the two, so consider how you plan to ask a praying friend to pray prior to asking them to pray in a specific way!
Once God confirms His will in the matter (directly to you and/or though what He's told praying friends who have faithfully sought the Lord's answer with you), you can pray and earnestly seek Him for the specific result He's revealed to you- and He will do it! He's faithful, and His promises are true!
To see God's best possible outcome should be our desire in each and every petition or concern that we bring to God. Yet, how easy it is for us to think through potential outcomes, come up with one we sincerely desire, then request or demand of God that He do it that way! I've found that as I yield to God first, ask Him to show me how to pray in a matter, listen for His voice, then pray accordingly to what He desires, that He does immeasurably more than I previously thought or imagined possible (Ephesians 3:20)!
Some might say, "But it takes time to wait, to listen for God's voice, and be still before Him! I don't have that kind of time. I need the answer or result right now!"
You can have a Burger King (have it your way) result, or you can practice Psalm 46:10 and discover God's much greater result and answer to your prayer- as you align your heart, mind, and soul with Him, and then pray His way in the matter.
As we practice this way of praying; our relationship, trust, faith, dependency, joy, patience, awe, and wonder in the Lord grows! Those are an incredible number of outcomes that happen when we seek God first, let our words be few (let His words become ours instead of only speaking ours), and be still and in awe of Him!
May the filibustering of God cease!
* A personal relationship is a two-way conversation, not just a one-way dominating speech.
* God's spelling of the word, intimacy = In to Me see.