Last time we discovered that we grow well when we learn really to trust God as our Father. A special way to grow that trust is in speaking with him every day – in prayer. Prayer can be a discipline (that you grow in) but even simple prayers involve talking with God – in an honest way. These prayers are precious! God knows our hearts, and also what we are trying to say when we have trouble giving words to our thoughts and feelings. Prayer often involves a form of liturgy. Our green prayer book (Book of Alternative Services) is obviously very helpful for this, as is the Lord’s Prayer. Another helpful model follows ‘A.C.T.S.’: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
Adoration is a form of worship that acknowledges who God really is. Sometimes thanking God for his wonderful qualities helps you focus on Him – such as his holiness, love, compassion, faithfulness, and amazing mercy. It is very easy sing your prayers since many worship songs are indeed musical prayers.
Confession is the act of acknowledging your own sins to the Lord and asking for his forgiveness. These can be sins that are actively committed as well as those of omission: by not doing what He asks us to do. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict you of specific sin – it may be exactly the right time to deal with it. Note that conviction is NOT condemnation, or that general feeling of worthlessness. That’s not a message from God at all.
Thanksgiving is important. You don’t have to have very much to be thankful for. Remember to thank Him for what you do have and for what He has done for you. Remember daily what God has done in your life. This keeps you more content in times of transition. God has a way of giving you what you need while you wait on Him. Joyce Meyer reminds us in her Healthy Living series that thankfulness is an important key to emotional health. Remember seven things that God has done for you. Write them down – every day. Then look back at all that God has done for you. That old cliché of counting your blessings is actually true! It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul encourages us to be ‘thankful in all things’ (Ephesians 5:20). Remember, you reap what you sow. Thankfulness deepens a grateful heart and opens your eyes to the many ways God will bless you.
Finally, supplication is the form of asking God for the needs of others. It is often called intercessions or prayers for the people. However, true intercession is when the Holy Spirit puts someone on your mind and heart and gives you an intense prayer burden for that person. Intercession is prayer with a prophetic edge.
It is very helpful keep track of what you’ve been praying. We need to do this because it is easy to forget all the wonderful little blessings that God gives us when He answers prayers. So you write down your prayer concerns on paper or on your computer. Keeping a prayer journal is beneficial – because if you struggle with praying aloud (even in private), this way helps you organize your thoughts.
I write my prayers like a love letter to God. I was taught this method of prayer-journalling by Buffalo-based speaker Mark Virkler. Mark leads a course called Communion with God that teaches you how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. He encouraged me to listen to God by writing out my prayer to Him and to wait for the Holy Spirit’s response. He told me that many people don’t try to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. They don’t want to be still and to give their God-given imaginations to Jesus. Our imagination is exactly where the Holy Spirit speaks. He inspires us and often reminds of important things. He is that gentle whisper that leads us to Jesus.
Once your imagination is cleansed and blessed, you can hear God’s voice more effectively in your “inner eyes or inner ears.” This way, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit doesn’t just come as a whisper of general love and encouragement. He can remind you of a specific scripture, give you a picture from your memory, show you a picture of something to pray about or give you songs and poems… God is very creative! Some people are more open to this naturally because they are creative to begin with, yet all of us have this creative side. When someone says to you: “Oh, you hear the voice of God; are you sure it’s not just your imagination?” Well, I have to say, wake up, because God uses your imagination! God speaks to you through your conscience, imagination, and the deepest part of you – your spirit. It’s a matter of being attuned to Him; like a radio receiver on the right frequency. Too often we are listening to static, but God is speaking to us.
When Mark taught us how to hear the Holy Spirit, he emphasized that you have to focus on Jesus. It is also the same with journaling. Both journaling and soaking prayer work best when you are focused on Jesus. When you focus on Jesus, (and are still before Him) it is definitely God who speaks to you. Keep focused on Him.
I encourage you my dear friends to try this form of prayer. You will find it deeply satisfying and find that God has been speaking to you all along. You just didn’t realize that He has been speaking to you!. Next time I will continue with growing in God through intercessory prayer and fasting.
Yours in Christ
Laurie-Ann works in radio broadcasting and attends St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Kanata, Ontario