How Do We Pray?

Prayer is the action that most directly determines how close I feel to God. Just as Pastor Tony said in his blog earlier this month, “Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life. It is a foundational tool in following Jesus, while also creating intimacy with God.”
I recently revamped my prayer structure and routine to better combat the pride and self-reliance that runs rampant in my heart. This prayer humbles me, and I connected songs to each element so that I can simply sing these lyrics in the car on the way to work when I cannot find the words to say.

  1. Praise (This is Our God by Phil Wickham) – Praise is always the first thing out of my mouth when I talk to God. I often use this time to recall the Gospel to myself, reminding myself that King Jesus “bore the cross (and) beat the grave”. Our God is awesome beyond measure, so I use this time to recognize Him for who He truly is.
  2. Thanks for God (I Thank God by Housefires) – Thanksgiving makes my prayer personal. In this section, I thank God for the Gospel, I thank Him for loving me, and I thank Him for sustaining me as I live and breathe today. This thanksgiving section focuses on thanks FOR God, not necessarily thanks TO God for His blessings in my life (that will come later).
  3. Confession (Homecoming by Bethel Music) – Before I ask for anything from a God of grace, I humble myself by verbalizing the sin in my life. This may be the least fun part of my prayer, but it is often the most fruitful. Speaking my failure out of my mind allows me to recognize it and let my gentle God redeem it. I am honest with myself so that I can see the person God has made me today and the person He is refining for tomorrow.
  4. Trust in Formation (Refiner by CeCe Winans) – This piece is one I added, and it has completely changed my prayer life for the better. This section reminds me that God is the author of my life. He not only saved me, but He is forming me into the man He has designed me to be. Therefore, I do not need to “fix myself” alone. God has promised aid for His children as they stumble toward Him in faithful obedience.
  5. Intercession (Bless God by Brooke Ligertwood) – Once again, I intentionally ask God to aid others before I ask Him to help me. I humbly ask God to help others draw nearer to Him and glorify His name in whatever situation they are in. Whether they are in the mountain or the valley, I bless God, and I pray that He will help others live into the plan He has for them.
  6. Petition (Do It Again by Elevation Worship) –God does not fail. He is forever faithful, and I have confidence that His plans are good. Therefore, I present my requests to God out of surrender. I rarely ask for a result, I rather ask that my mind and perspective would be more aligned with His, so that I can see His plan as He moves. I want to watch Him move mountains to remain faithful to His people.
  7. Thanks to God (Gratitude by Brandon Lake) – I begin closing my prayer by focusing my attention on what God is actively doing in my life. I utilize gratitude to eliminate discontentment and experience the joy offered by the Holy Spirit. Grumbling and gratitude can rarely exist together, so I thank God for the life He has given me in an attempt to leave behind bitterness and run toward the joy He desires me to have.
  8. Praise (Praise by Elevation Worship) – I end my prayers the same way I start them; I praise God. At the end of my prayer, I focus on how I can praise God throughout my day as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1). Praise is “more than a sound”; praise has the power to transform our lives as we recognize and rely on God. I ask God for the strength to embody the faithfulness and love that are central to His character.

This structure helps me focus on God while connecting His character, action, and truth to the most critical areas of my life. I hope this structure can help you encounter God through His identity and work in your life.