the Father’s character

There are many different “prayer tools” out there to aid us in our prayer lives. I’ve used the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) acrostic in the past. Truth is, I’ve found that if I don’t use some sort of tool, my mind can easily wander–SQUIRREL!!

A few months ago, I learned a prayer tool based on The Lord’s Prayer, or the model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples when they asked Him to teach them to pray. It just makes sense. If this is what Jesus taught His disciples, shouldn’t it be a model for us to follow as well?

Here’s the simple format:

The Father’s Character
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name…” (Matthew 6:9)
Let this phrase guide your prayers around the themes of God being a loving and gracious Father. It speaks of our relationship with Him through covenant. But, be sure to balance it with the fact that God is holy, separate from us and He expects us to be holy and set apart as well.

The Father’s Kingdom
“…Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
This is huge! So many things come to my mind when I read this phrase. We have been given the opportunity to represent His kingdom as ambassadors. He has chosen to use us to accomplish His kingdom purposes on this earth. What greater purpose could there be to surrender fully to? It also brings to mind the kingdom values that should begin to be more and more evident as a group of believers live out the counter-cultural ways of Jesus. What about physical healing? We know from Scripture that there is no sickness or disease in God’s kingdom. So, to pray that God’s kingdom and God’s will would come to earth as it is in heaven means we can and should ask for God to bring physical healing.

The Father’s Provision
“Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
God is our provider. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “…it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth..” This is an area of growth for most Americans. We have such an independent spirit and we fail to recognize that God is our provider and not we ourselves. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Allow this phrase to guide your prayers for God’s provision for your every need–not just financial.

The Father’s Forgiveness
“And forgive us our debs, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Lots here to pray over as well! In general, if you’re like me, you over-estimate your own holiness and under-estimate your own sinfulness. As the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” What about broken relationships? Has someone wronged you? Matthew 6:14-15 seems to indicate that if we do not forgive others for the wrongs they have committed against us, then God will not forgive us!

The Father’s Guidance
“And lead us not into temptation…” (Matthew 6:13a)
Pray for God’s guidance in your life. What areas do you need God to guide you into truth and away from temptation? 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises us that there is no temptation that can overtake us because God will make a way of escape for us.

The Father’s Protection
“…but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13b)
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are in a spiritual struggle. Pray for God’s spiritual protection and deliverance in your life. As you examine your life, what weak spots do you have? Our enemy, the evil one, will attack where you are weak. Those are the areas where we especially need the Father’s protection.

I’ve been using this prayer tool for the past couple of months. I am a substitute school bus driver to help supplement my income and I have been on the same route for about 2 months. The bus practically does the route itself by now so I use the 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon for some focused prayer. This tool has been very beneficial in keeping my thoughts corralled.

You can either pray through all 6 categories in one prayer time or spend the whole time on one of the 6 aspects. Doing the latter will enable you to really go deeper in a segment. Another way to use this tool is to evaluate your prayer life. Which segment(s) are you strong in? Which segment(s) are you weak in? For instance, I might have no trouble asking for God’s guidance in my life, but I might struggle recognizing Him as my provider. It’s a great evaluation tool!

What prayer methods have you found helpful?

 

waiting

Like most of us, I hate waiting. Well, I spent my entire morning today waiting. It all started while I was sitting in our staff devotions when my cell phone rang. It was Suzanne. She was on her way to the doctor with Sarah and had a flat tire. On October 3rd, our 10 year old middle child Sarah had a pre-cancerous mole removed from the back of her heel–right on her Achilles. So, we switched cars at the tire store and she went on to the doctor’s office.

Since the surgical procedure on October 3rd, we’ve been waiting for her foot to heel. We’ve been back to the doctor 3 times and got the nonchalant, “It looks good,” but we didn’t think it did. Friday, not to be too descriptive, it was runny and had a pungent odor. So we called our primary care physician who agreed to see her this morning.

I’m still waiting at the tire store for what I thought would be a simple patch ‘n go procedure on the tire. My name is called and I’m presented with a $450 estimate for my leaky tire. Our tires are only 20K miles into their 65K mile warranty but are worn out. Evidently, this is due to our need for an alignment and new shocks all around on our 2005 Sienna. I decline and ask for the patch ‘n go procedure.

Back at the doctor’s office, our regular doctor takes one look at Sarah’s foot and comes to the same conclusion we did–it doesn’t look good, at all. Suzanne is given the name and number of a skin graft professional and three prescriptions to fill.

I’m still waiting at the tire store. I could practically recite the half hour CNN Headline news stories playing on the TV in the waiting area. Suzanne calls on her way from the doctor’s office. I tell her the news about the tires, alignment and shocks and we decide to go ahead with replacing the 4 tires since they are crediting 67% of the purchase price toward 4 new tires. She picks me up and we head over to our neighborhood pharmacist to fill our 3 prescriptions. More waiting!

Finally, we head back to the tire store where Suzanne volunteers to wait with the kids while I head into the office. At 12:30pm she texts me, “still waiting :-/”

When I get home, I think we’re going to cast lots and find out who in our family has been praying for patience! Speaking of praying, please pray for God to heal Sarah’s foot. Here is a picture of what it looked like last night.