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Text-Driven Discipleship: Prayer

In continuing our series on Text-Driven Discipleship and adding to yesterday’s discussion of the Text-Driven Podcast (Episode 156), today we're going to discuss the essential elements of prayer. Prayer is a very intimate time when one speaks to God. If you read books about prayer, the authors speak of their private prayer time with God, like talking to their best friend. These books often show prayer happening in a scenic environment. Everything is perfect. Yet, this ideal prayer environment is not the norm; most Christians are unsatisfied with their prayer life. The high ideal of prayer becomes a barrier to spending time in prayer, especially for new believers. Therefore, realistic counsel will be presented instead of setting a high ideal. Specifically, a time of focused, private prayer can be difficult, and this article will focus on that time of prayer. The acronym "PRAY" will be used to make prayer simple but powerful.


In your prayer time, the first thing you should do is praise God. Praising God is a combination of worshipping God for His attributes and thanksgiving for what God has done in your life. Praising God seems effortless, as there are so many things to praise God for, but the opposite can often be true. The vastness of God can often leave us speechless in our time of praise, and we end up repeating phrases we don't understand. A way to avoid this speechlessness is to make a list. Take an afternoon and write down as many attributes of God as you can think of and the definitions of those attributes. A great book that can help you create this list is "The Attributes of God Vol. 1 and 2" by A. W. Tozer. After following this list for some time, make a list of the works of God in your life for which you're thankful. Start this list with things you are always thankful for, such as your salvation, local church, provision, family, etc. After this second list, make a list of things you're presently thankful for (new job, recent good health report, etc.).

Once you have these lists created, use them as a guide for your prayer time. A helpful way to do this is to alternate between lists. Spend a few minutes praising God for an attribute and spend a few minutes praising God for something you're thankful for, alternating between the two. Eventually, you'll know these lists well enough that you won't necessarily have to read off of them. As you make this part of your daily prayer time, the attributes and works of God will start relating to each other in your mind, leading to greater worship of God.


After you have spent time praising God, you will now move into a time of repenting of your sins. The temptation you'll have in this time is to repent of the same sins you always struggle with and fly through this section as it's uncomfortable. Don't do that. Start this section of prayer by asking God to expose or reveal your sin to you. In light of who God is and remembering the attributes of God, this will help you not breeze over this vital section of our prayer life. After the Lord exposes these sins, confess them to God and ask God to cleanse you of them and strengthen you. Regularly confessing our sins helps each one of us not to try to hide or justify our sins. Martin Luther once said, “The life of a Christian is the daily act of repentance.” The Bible teaches us that God knows our sins and the depths of our hearts better than we do. Therefore, lying to God or trying to cover up our sins only harms us and our spiritual growth. Be overtly and completely honest with God about your sin. Complete this section by asking God to continue exposing your sins and sanctifying you, even of the sins that didn’t come to mind.


After spending some time in praise and repentance, move into a time of intercession for others and yourself. In this section, ask God for everything you care about or are concerned about. Start with praying for other people. Make a list of specific people and requests (family members by name, pastor, church members, missionaries, people you're actively witnessing to, etc.). Then, as you pray through this list, pray for the things going on in the lives of each of these people (pastor's sermon preparation, church's flag football ministry, friend's surgery, prodigal son or daughter, etc.).

After praying for others, move into a time of praying for specific things in your life. Pray for your sanctification, opportunities to evangelize, anything causing you to worry, etc. 1 Peter 5:7 says to cast all our cares upon God because He cares for you. There's nothing you can pray for that God does not care for. The context of 1 Peter 5:7 is that casting all our cares upon God comes out of humbling ourselves before God. To fail to pray for the things burdening you is arrogance before the Lord. Therefore, in your prayer, leave nothing out and pray for anything and everything.


After praising, repenting, and asking, finish your time in prayer by yielding to the will of God. Yielding means to pray with a genuine desire for God's will to be done, not our own. The practice of yielding is a good contrast with the practice of asking. We have brought everything before God that we can think of and asked God to bring about our desired outcomes, but our desired outcomes might not be God's desired outcomes. Instead, yielding to God's will to finish your time in prayer ensures that you aren't giving God a "to-do" list but actually coming to God with your cares and concerns. God's will is always the best outcome. Thus, we should pray that God's will be done. The time of yielding may be the most challenging aspect of prayer, as our flesh wants to turn prayer into an airing of grievances to God instead of trusting God with everything. Fight this temptation and yield to the Lord.


This simple prayer format can be used for any length of time in prayer. A natural outcome of repentance should be a desire to praise God for forgiveness. A natural outcome of asking God should be a desire to yield to God. Starting with this format will help you foster a daily habit of prayer. Similar to our discussion on devotional Bible reading, prayer is something that we constantly grow in. Spending an extended time in prayer won't come naturally, but if you choose to spend time in prayer and sacrifice time to pray, you'll grow and flourish in all areas of your spiritual life.

Written by Klayton Carson

The "Text-Driven Discipleship" series is also on the Text-Driven Podcast. You can listen to the Text-Driven Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or at New episodes are released every Monday, just in time for your morning commute.


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