During the Holy Week, our CEO at Virtual BizNest, John Signe, gave a message to Christ Commission Fellowship’s (CCF) True Life Retreat Conference. It was a lesson on how to pray.
True Life Retreat brings people together to take a break from life’s distractions and refocus their lives to Jesus. It helps men and women begin or reaffirm their commitment to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It has become a bridge for many people to experience the living hope that is in Jesus Christ and the promise of a new life with Him.
In his message, he talked about how to pray. And what better time to talk about prayer than during the Holy Week. He elaborated on how prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines that Christians need to live by. It is as important as other spiritual disciplines which include reading God’s word, fasting, worship, fellowship, service, and discipleship.
On Self- and Spiritual Discipline
Since he was talking about prayer as a spiritual discipline, he started by explaining what self-discipline is. According to him, self-discipline “is the ability to do what you know you should do whether you like it or not. It is also the ability to stop yourself from doing things you wanna do that you know you should not be doing.”
He further pointed out that self-discipline is a habit, a practice, a lifestyle, and a way of living. This means that self-discipline is the price you have to pay if you want to be successful in your career and craft.
Meanwhile, he emphasized the purpose of spiritual discipline in one’s life. As he explains, the purpose of spiritual discipline is to help people develop intimacy with God. It puts them in a place where God has the chance to change them from the inside out. However, this transformation is God’s work. So the focus is God, not discipline because discipline on its own is powerless.
John has lived a life of prayer. But he was keen to say that it took him some time to develop the habit. Now, he is teaching others how to pray so that they can develop an intimate relationship with God and keep them grounded in their daily walk with Him. Here are some key lessons from his message about prayer.
1. Prayer is when God changes us. When we keep praying, pretty soon we are the ones transformed.
Prayer is communion with God. It is both talking and listening to Him. It shows people’s dependence on God and puts them in a humble stature as we enter His presence. When the faithful pray with all their hearts, they are declaring that God is sovereign and that He is in control of their lives. However, sometimes people pray with the wrong intentions. They want to change what God is thinking. But sooner or later as they keep praying, God will reveal these intentions and cause them to surrender the things they hold dear that are not in line with His will. When people make prayer a habit, God gives them one or two things in their hearts. Perhaps, God wants people to give up worrying or let go of an unhealthy relationship.
2. Jesus lived a life of prayer and He invites us to do the same.
Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
Jesus modeled a life of prayer and he wants believers to do the same because that is how they can win their battles. Jesus, who is God himself, submitted to the Father. He sought the Father’s will above His own (Luke 22:42). This shows how important prayer is in daily living. Prayer provides the power to be victorious in all aspects of daily life. That is why believers need to keep praying. As Samuel Chadwick said, “the one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom. But he trembles when we pray.”
3. Pray with the A.C.T.S. method.
In Luke 11:1, the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. It is interesting to note that Jesus’s disciples did not ask Him to teach them how to walk on water or heal people. Instead, they asked Him to teach them how to pray. And the reason for this is that the disciples had observed that Jesus’s secret in his ministry was prayer. It was central to his personality. Jesus showed complete dependence on the Father. And God expects us to do the same.
The bible offers a ‘model’ prayer that believers can follow which is known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’ However, Jesus warns in Matthew 6:7 to not heap up empty phrases by repeating these words again and again. So how should people pray?
Jesus gave an outline for personal prayers through Matthew 6:9-15. An easy way to remember the key elements of the prayer taught by Christ is by following the acrostic A.C.T.S.
Adoration is praising His power and majesty. It is to worship God for who He is – his kindness, his mercy, and his majesty. It also means to praise, honor, and exalt God. In other words, adoration is expressing love and trust in Him. Starting prayer with praise reminds one who they are praying to and the power He has to answer their prayers.
In the concept of confession, all have fallen short and do not always live up to God’s expectations. According to doctrine, all are sinners and that is why they need God’s forgiveness. To confess means “to agree with.” In other words, one agrees with God concerning their sin. And when people confess their sins, God is faithful and just to forgive them (1 John 1:9).
Out of gratitude, believers give thanks to God. When they thank God, they are expressing gratefulness and appreciation for who He is and for what He does in their lives. Thanking God is also telling God that one trusts Him. Thanking God will also lead to a lighter heart as believers see the blessings in life.
Supplication is entrusting all needs and desires to God. He has people’s best interest at heart. So He will listen to whatever concerns his children, even the small details in their personal lives. So believers should share what is in their hearts and ask for God’s help, guidance, and healing. They can pray for themselves, their family, and others. Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 that the Father knows what one needs even before one asks Him. But he wants believers to pray because this shows their dependence on Him.
4. When you shy away from prayer, remember that righteousness is about what you believe not the way you behave.
Sometimes it is difficult to pray. And the main reason for this is sin. When people sin, they are drawn to thinking that God will no longer answer their prayers. As a result, they do not want to pray. But righteousness does not deal with the way people behave. Righteousness deals with what they believe. Romans 4:3 says: “… Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
So when people shy away from prayer, remember that Jesus bore humanity’s sins so that they might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Isn’t that amazing? So when one shies away from prayer, remember that God is a forgiving God and He will embrace anyone when they come to Him.
John Signe ended his message on the note that the ultimate model of a prayerful life is Jesus. Jesus lived a life that is completely dependent on God and He wants believers to do just the same. He taught not just why people should pray but also how to pray. So the faithful may make prayer a habit, a lifestyle, and a way of living. Watch the full message here.