Prayer for Growth
The power of prayer is twofold:
First, it places us in communication with God, as we both share our joys, pains, needs, and praises. It is a conversation in which both we and God share with one another. It is a process of speaking to God, and yet also listening for His encouragement and guidance.
Second, prayer is the medium through which the Holy Spirit does His best work. In Chapter 4 of the book of James, it is said, "...you do not have because you do not ask God."
Similarly, we understand that in prayer, we are partners with God in order to accomplish His will. Jesus speaks in Matthew 6 about how each of us worries about how we will have our needs cared for from day to day. He responds in this way: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) In prayer, we seek to honor God and draw ourselves closer to His will within that conversation. As we draw near, our requests are aligned with His will, and the Holy Spirit does its most powerful work.
So how do we begin to pray? What does an effective prayer look like? There is no one way in which we can speak to God, just as there is no one specific way, one may hold a conversation with another person. Prayer is unique to the individual. Yet, there are certain things we can seek to include in our prayer that will help us to maintain the right attitude and spirit. They are:
Praise and Thanksgiving: When we take the time in prayer to give honor to God, the creator of all things and the one who has blessed us with life, breath, and salvation through Jesus, we enter our prayer with the right heart and attitude.
Confession and Repentance: This is an opportunity for us to ensure that there are no things in our lives that would prevent us from communion with God. We tell him of the places in which we have fallen short of His glory, and we also ask Him to reveal to us ther ways in which we don't reflect His goodness. Psalm 139: 23-24 says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Such a prayer is a great place to start.
Petition and Intercession: This is the element of prayer in which we make our needs and requests known to God. In petition, we tell God of our needs, and in intercession, we bring the needs of others to God in prayer. Healthy prayer involves both, as we must always keep in mind that our relationship with God is in community with others. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we share the journey and lift one another up to God in love.
Meditation: Often forgotten in prayer, this is time set aside not to talk, but to listen. Prayer is a conversation, and to do all of the talking doesn't allow us the privilege of God responding. Set aside time to listen. Often, this can be done when paired with the reading of scripture. It could be said that when we're not doing the speaking, one should always be listening for the voice of God. Either way, keeping our hearts and ears open for God's instruction is vital to our continuing faith.