What do I say when I pray?
Pastor Chris Rollins of Coastal Community Church in Charleston, SC addressed this question in his weekly email to members. (I get the emails because we visited the church and signed the guest pad. And I enjoy reading them!)
I've discovered over the years that many people simply "don't know what to say" during their prayer time. That's okay. Usually it's because no one has ever taught them how to pray.
I always start off by telling people that prayer is simply a conversation between best friends. You don't need to talk to God in a special voice or a special language. He simply wants you to talk to Him like you would talk to anyone else.
But then people want to know what exactly do you talk to God about? The short answer is - everything. But sometimes, like a lot of conversations, it's good to have a general plan.
Here's an easy plan to follow for your morning quiet time:
1. Relax. Be still. Be quiet. Slow down. Prepare your heart. Take a couple of deep breaths. Ask God to open your heart and your mind and to speak to you. Tell Him that you are listening and will do whatever He asks of you.
2. Read. Read a section of scripture. Follow a systematic plan, in a modern, readable, understandable translation.
3. Reflect. It's not about how much you read, but what does God say to you from this passage. So, take a moment, think about what this passage means to your life and then even write down your thoughts. How does it apply to your life? What will you do?
4. Pray. A simple prayer plan that literally thousands of Christians have used over the years is: ACTS
• Adoration - spend a few minutes just praising God for who He is, His character. You might have read something in your Bible reading that stands out about God's character - His love, His grace, His power, etc.
• Confession - spend a few minutes confessing your sins. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal every sin. Confess each sin specifically. Make restitution when possible. By faith, accept God's forgiveness.
• Thanksgiving - similar to adoration, but this is more about what God has done and all we have to be thankful for. You might even consider making and keeping a Thanksgiving List to record the blessings and good things God has done in your life.
• Supplication - this is praying for needs: yours and others. What needs do you pray about? Absolutely every one of them. There is nothing too great for God's power to take care of and there's nothing too small for His concern. Pray for family, friends, people you know that you'd like to see become Christians, your spiritual leaders, government leaders. And of course, yourself.
I hope this helps. Remember, prayer really is an ongoing conversation. Share your heart with God all throughout your day. He is always there wanting to hear from you!