Recently I've been going through both Bible study and prayer methods with the youth of Redeemer Fellowship. We looked at prayer as being more than just asking God to do the stuff we want Him to like He's a genie. As we discussed it prayer is more about building our relationship with Him and less about trying to manipulate Him. As we are wrapping up this series I wanted to speak about the different parts of a healthy prayer life. The thought of "parts" got me thinking about my former job at the Toyota Parts Distribution Center here in Chicago. I dealt with parts, in one way or another, every day for over 13 years. That thought got me thinking about how funny it is that I spent 13 years working for an automobile company and still don't know any more about cars than when I started. The extent of my knowledge about cars comes down to 4 basic components: keys, gas, spark plugs, and wheels. The more I thought about it, I feel those components relate to prayer in some amazing ways.
Without keys, you're not even getting in your car, let alone starting it. For me the thing that opens and starts prayer is adoration. Adoration is the act of paying honor or worship. Prayer starts here because we need to be reminded of who God is, what He is like and what He has done. This requires theological thought and sometimes even involves music.
Without gas, your car won't get very far. The gas for my prayer life is confession. I find it hard to reflect on the greatness of God in adoration without seeing my sinfulness and need for confession. This is the act of acknowledging, admitting, and/or disclosing my sin and sinfulness. In light of who God is and who I am in Him, I need to be turning away from my self directed life and turn towards the God directed path.
Without the spark to light the gas, there's no combustion ... which means you still aren't going anywhere. What adds the spark to prayer? Thanksgiving! Seeing all that God has blessed us with should lead us to be thankful to Him. Have you ever stopped long enough to think about all the ways God has blessed you? It's staggering!
The forgiveness of sins
Circumstances, hard as they may be, are used by God to remind us of our utter need for Him.
There are plenty of reasons to be thankful. This is where hope can be found.
Without wheels, all the combustion in the world still won't let your car move. So it is with prayer. The wheels of prayer is supplication. Wheels on a car roll us to our destination. Supplication rolls us right into the throne room of God where we humbly ask Him for help as those who are in desperate need. We are trying to follow God and be more like Him. We can't do that on our own. We need His help. As we do this He reveals more and more of His plan to us and we again are in desperate need of His strength and power to accomplish His will.
This is how prayer works. We need all 4 parts. This is how our relationship and reliance on the Lord grows. Remember what Philippians 4:4 - 7 says:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Here, in prayer, is where we experience joy and peace.