If seeing and embracing the sovereignty of God causes us to pray less, we have not yet understood his sovereignty, or prayer. Providence does not make prayer optional or incidental, but vital and indispensable. Not because God couldn’t do it another way — God does all that he pleases however he pleases — but because the sovereign God has chosen, precisely and wisely, to hang many of his plans on the prayers of his people.
Did anyone love and herald the absolute sovereignty of God like the apostle Paul? And yet he says in 2 Corinthians 1:11, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” He also calls believers to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and to pray “at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).
The pages of Scripture, and of history, are filled with the power and necessity of prayer, because the all-powerful God has chosen to hear and answer prayer.
My prayer life has gone through ebbs and flows over the years. Somewhere along the way, someone shared a simple outline for personal prayer with me called ACTS. And while there’s no one right way to pray—I’ve found this strategy really helpful. My hope is that if you want to learn how to pray, or if you’re seeking to grow in your prayer life, learning ACTS for personal prayer will bless you!
Do you ever find yourself struggling to know what to pray for? You want to make prayer part of your daily routine, but you feel like you are repeating yourself. You want to freshen things up.
You are not alone. For many Christians, prayer can sometimes feel dry or stale. Prayer is talking with someone who loves you deeply and knows you intimately, so it might be hard to admit or deal with when the conversation has seemed to dry up. Part of the problem can also be the temptation to see prayer as talking to God rather than talking with Him.
Jesus teaches us to pray that God would give us daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Obviously Jesus was not telling His disciples to pray only for bread. But bread was a staple in the diet of the Jews, and had been so for many years. Furthermore, bread was a powerful symbol of God’s provision for His people in the Old Testament. We remember how God cared for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. Life in the wilderness was hard, and soon the people began to complain that it would be better to be back in Egypt, where they had wonderful food to eat. In response to these complaints, God promised to “rain bread from heaven” (Ex. 16:4). The next morning, when the dew lifted, there remained behind on the ground “a small round substance, as fine as frost. . . . It was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (vv. 14, 31). When God miraculously fed His people from heaven, he did so by giving them bread.
You have been invited to speak to the God of the universe, the Almighty. Not just the mightiest, but the all-mighty. All power is his, and under his control. And he is the one who made you, and keeps you in existence.
This God, the one God — almighty, creator, rescuer — speaks to us to reveal himself, that we might genuinely know him, but he doesn’t only speak. In one of the great wonders in all the world and history, this God listens. First he speaks, and bids us respond. Then he pauses. He stoops. He bends his ear toward his people. And he hears us in this marvel we so often take for granted, and so flippantly call prayer.