Prayer, one of the most important activities in our Christian life, is a conversa- tion with God; a conversation in which the entire Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) is involved. In Acts 4, we see the apostles gather with their friends and pray.
In Acts 4:24 we see believers pray to God the Father, as Jesus commands and demonstrates in Matthew 6:6,9 respectively. When we pray, we are talking to the Sovereign Lord, the Creator of the universe. He is far greater and more powerful than the universe he created, and yet he is there with us when we pray!
We also pray through Jesus and in the Spirit. The final refrain of Acts 4:30 reminds you of many prayers that end “in Jesus’ name.” We have no hope apart
from Christ and his righteousness. We know from Romans 8:26-27 that the Spirit empowers our prayer, and we see an outpouring of the Spirit’s power through prayer in Acts 4:31.
Through prayer, we are developing our relationship with God through active obedience and spending time with him. Our Sovereign Lord who can do “whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:28) already knows what we want and need. We do not pray for God’s sake, we pray to demonstrate, to ourselves first, our dependence and faith through prayer.
When we invest time in growing our faith, our fellowship with God deepens and blooms. The greater our relationship and faith, the greater our desire to pursue deeper fellowship and be involved in his work. Prayer provides us the grand opportu- nity to be involved in a significant way in the eternal work of God’s Kingdom.
Another amazing aspect of prayer is that God always answers. There are times when we choose to be unsatisfied with the answer, yet the answer is always one of three responses:
We are an impatient people who do not like being told no. How wonderful it is that God stoops to answer every one of his children’s prayers! That being said, there are certainly acts and attitudes that can complicate our communication through prayer.
Unconfessed sin (Isaiah 59:1-2) harms us, and retards our relationship with God. Disobedience (1 John 2:21-22) is unconfessed sin’s kissing cousin, and it tears at our prayers with sharp claws. Many times our motives are wrong ( James 4:2-3) and we are simply attempting to use God as Aladdin did the genie.
God gives only “good gifts” (Matthew 7:11) and when we ask for things that aren’t good for us, it is unreasonable for us to be upset when the answer is no. Every- time God says no or wait, we should remember that he would only say yes if it were good for us, and He withholds nothing good for us.
Prayer is an integral part of our relationship with God and therefore we are free to talk to him as we wish. God is not interested in hearing us repeat meaningless
words. Having said that, some people find it helpful to have a pattern for prayer. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is an excellent model for prayer taught by Jesus himself. For some years I have also used the mnemonic ACTS.
A—Adoration That is praising God for who he is and what he has done. C—Confession This is where we ask God’s forgiveness for anything we have
T—Thanksgiving This is where we thank God for all he has done in our life.
S—Supplication This is where we ask God to act on our behalf, on behalf of friends, and for others.
While there is no set formula for “how” we pray, God is straightforward in tell- ing us “when” to pray. The New Testament tells us to pray “always” (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18).
This may take place in the presence of others, but don’t forget Jesus said,“when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to the Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6). He himself went off to a solitary place to pray (Mark 1:35).
As well as praying alone, it is important to pray with other believers, as we see in Acts 4. Jesus also said, “I tell you that if two or more of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19).
Prayer is at the heart of Christianity, because the heart of Christianity is a relationship with God. That is why it is a most important activity of our lives. As the saying goes: Satan laughs at our words; mocks at our toil; but trembles when we pray.