Prayer is a foundational and transformative Holy Habit, a way of being, the breath of life. It reorientates us in right relationships with God, with others and the world. It is an antidote to the selfishness of sin.
There are many helpful ways of thinking about prayer. One is by using the letters of ACTS:
Adoration: When did you last spend time: expressing your adoration of God just for the sake of it? Reorienting yourself in the orbit of God’s love? Gazing upon and being transformed by divine holiness?
Confession: This can sometimes be rushed. It is tempting to focus on the repentance (the changing and moving on) without first dwelling in the place of contrition and sorrow.
Thanksgiving: Another transformational aspect of prayer, which fosters humility as well as gladness and generosity. The simple practice of saying grace before a meal connects us with the goodness of God in creation, while the great thanksgiving prayers from many Communion services remind us of how much we have to be grateful for, most especially in the self-giving love of God seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Supplication: As we take time with adoration, confession and thanksgiving, we are reorientated to God’s love and holiness. So, when we come to supplication (or intercession), we are able to pray in a way consistent with the teaching of Jesus for the fruits of God’s kingdom to be seen and known in the lives of those for whom we pray.
There are two great biblical cries of prayer: the cry of praise typified by the word ‘Hallelujah’, and the cry of lament captured in phrases such as ‘How long?’ God is shown to hear and respond to both cries. Be sure to explore this habit from both these perspectives, confident in the one to whom you pray, who holds and hears you as you do.
Whenever Christians meet together, they pray. Sometimes the words are well loved and have been recited by the church for ages past. Sometimes the words are fresh and raw, gushing from the deep cries of people’s hearts. On other occasions, prayer is silent. Or prayer may arise simply from the shared activity of people who love Jesus Christ ‘living, working in our world’.
Prayer is a conversation with God; it is waiting on God – both in listening and serving. Prayer is sustaining, encouraging, nurturing, exciting and engaging. It is the lifeblood of the church.
As you explore the Holy Habit of Prayer, we hope churches will be encouraged to pray together, not just in corporate worship but perhaps in prayer meetings or small groups.
How could the prayer life of individuals be strengthened and developed?
Could prayer be used as a tool for mission?
How/where else could prayer be or become a regular feature of your church life?
And in the community of which you are a part:
What does prayer mean to people who are not in the church?
How can the church be part of the community through its prayer?
Where is prayer happening already in your local community, and how can you engage with that?
And when we are struggling to pray, or when prayers are not answered in the way we hope or expect, how can we support one another to wrestle with that before God in prayer?