Can you imagine having a friend who always says the same things over and over and over to you whenever s/he sees you? The friend says something like, “Hi Lydia. How about those Red Sox?! Did you watch the game yesterday? It was exciting [or depressing]. Oh no! Look at the time. I gotta go. I’m very busy. Bye.” This is the only one-sided conversation your friend has with you and s/he talks as fast as s/he can, so s/he can move on to more “important” things. I have been to some churches where the prayer is done in that same way. Prayers are said by rote, from memory or read from a pamphlet, and it’s like the congregation is trying to make the Guinness Book of World Records, as the fastest praying church on record. Praying to our God should not merely be a rote exercise and done quickly, so we can go on to more “important” matters. The Apostle Peter quotes Proverbs 3:34 as a warning: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5b). Sincere prayer comes from the deep recesses of the heart, when we “Humble [ourselves], therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift [us] up in due time” (I Peter 5:6). Prayer means something when we “CAST all [our] anxiety on [Jesus] because [we know] He cares for [us]” (I Peter 5:7). Using my acronym for prayer, C.A.S.T.:
C= Confession is being honest with God about our failure to honor Him in our thoughts and attitudes, in our words and actions and inactions. Sometimes, I feel like the Apostle Paul, when he writes, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…What a wretched man I am! Who will restore me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15, 24-25). Like Paul, I cannot free myself from my sinful tendencies, but Christ already has: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). We always have Jesus to turn to: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men” (I Timothy 2:5-6a). When we confess our sins to Christ and ask Him to help us, we know that He will: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross God will “restore to [us] the joy of [His] Salvation” (Psalm 51:12a) when we confess our sins to Him. Psalm 51 also tells us that God does not want us to do penance for our sin, but to have a humble heart: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17). Instead of reciting a certain number of prayers, the Lord may want us go to a brother or sister in Christ who we have wronged, and ask for his/her forgiveness and to make things right between us (See Romans 12:18 and James 5:16). God also wants us to forgive those who have wronged us (See Colossians 3:12-14). The Prayer of Confession brings back joy to our broken hearts. (See Parts II and III for further thoughts on the Prayer of Confession.)
A= Adoration is the praise and worship of God for Who He is and not necessarily what He does for us. After we have confessed our sins to the Lord God Almighty, our hearts and minds and souls are emptied of worldly clutter and we are free to worship His Majesty. We are free to give Him His worth – That is what “Worship” means. In our Prayer of Adoration, we exalt His Holy Name, we esteem Him as the God of Glory, and we bless and honor Him as our Creator and King over all the earth. We Praise and Worship God for His attributes: God is Omniscient (all knowing), Omnipotent ( all powerful), Omnipresent (everywhere), Immutable (unchanging), Holy (pure and blameless), Righteous (without favoritism in dealing with man) Sovereign (full authority over all His creation), Love (filled with mercy, grace and loving-kindness), Merciful (offering salvation, and not what we deserve), Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) (from whatchristianswanttoknow.com). There are many more attributes of God, but these ten are enough to make us drop to our knees (if we are able) in awe of who God is. God is an AWESOME God!
There are examples of Prayers of Adoration throughout the Bible, especially in the Book of Psalms and the Book of Revelation. Personalizing and praying the words found in the Scriptures helps me with my Prayers of Adoration. Also, having a hymn book handy helps me to Praise and Worship (giving God His worth) the Lord in Prayer. More about this next time.
Belonging to An Awesome God!