Chapter 6: How to Pray
So I missed a week. “Some people” (you know who you are!) were on vacation, I was already late from the week before, and then we had the added busy-ness of getting my mother in law settled into assisted living. Looking back, I’m amazed I even got my Bible reading done over the last couple of weeks! Interestingly, though, I tried very hard to put into practice the things that we’ve been learning here and really tried to make sure that, of all the things I was putting off in the last couple weeks, reading the Word was not one of them! I started a new Bible reading system, too! It’s pretty extensive, and admittedly not for everyone, but I love it. If you want to learn about it or try it out you can check out this link or this one.* I originally tried the system Teri recommends in Sweet Journey, but it wasn’t working for me (for reasons too varied and quirky to mention here!), so I set out to find another way. The system I’m using is not a Bible-in-a-year system. I’m not interested in being one of those people who reads the whole Bible through once a year. I’m not NOT interested in being one of them, either, it’s just not my priority. :-) I want to read the Word of God because it is His Word, not as a simple exercise. Bottom line, find a program that works for you and stick to it!
Okay, on to this week’s chapter – “How to Pray.” Again, following the routine she set for the first foundation (reading the Bible), this chapter is the “exercise” portion that naturally follows the last chapter on the importance of prayer. I found it pretty easy to follow and comprehend, so there were just a couple of things I wanted to bring up and offer for discussion or comment.
The A.C.T.S. system of praying.
I’ve known of this system since I was a girl; I think it is probably the most commonly used acronym in Christianity! :-) And I like the idea of it – it is a good way to help us remember that prayer is not “rub the lamp and make a wish” time. And if you have problems with being distracted while you pray, or have problems doing anything else in your prayers except asking God to do things for you, then by all means, work this A.C.T.S. system! But I would encourage you to use it only as “training wheels” until you develop the discipline necessary to go out on your own. Otherwise I fear we risk the A.C.T.S. system becoming “rote” or just a list we go through on our way to the “supplication” portion of our prayers! :-)
A quick not on Psalm 66:18 (go back and read it if you’ve forgotten).
That word “regard” has more to do with the idea of “cherishing” or “taking pleasure in” something. I appreciate the sentiment behind Teri’s discussion of confession, and making sure we are willing to evaluate our lives for sin, but I think her use of this verse to back that up was a little weak. It’s not that we can’t have any sin in our lives or the Lord won’t hear our prayer – if that were the case NONE of us would ever be heard! But if there is a sin you are “cherishing,” then you know what it is; it is not some un-discovered sin or inadvertent iniquity that you need a blanket “forgive me for whatever-sin” statement for. That sin that you’re “taking pleasure in” – that sin will keep your prayer life in trouble, my friend! But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that any tiny sin you may-or-may-not have discovered is what’s keeping God from answering your prayers. It just doesn’t work that way.
Here’s the ultimate takeaway from this chapter, as far as I’m concerned: as a believer, you have access to the throne of the Living God of the universe! The One who created the world wants to hear your prayers and act on your behalf!
I think it would be helpful for us to share how we are doing in this prayer area. For me, the main problem I have is with the “discipline” of concentration. My mind is always going a hundred miles an hour and always casting about for something to stew on. I also am a firm believer in praying without ceasing, so I feel like I’m constantly “talking” to God. But one of my goals in this study is to have a set time where I am being very deliberate about my prayers; where I have specific things I pray about. It’s a habit I need to discipline myself to develop. So that’s where I am. What about you?
Next week we have one more week on Prayer, then we’re on to the final foundation – Scripture Memorization! (cue the music!)
I’ll be praying for you this week! :-)
*If you have the Olive Tree Bible app on your phone or iPad, you can get this reading plan there; that’s how I use it.