In the Youth ministry at Vann we have begun our emphasis this month on prayer. At Vann Avenue we say we want to fulfill the Great Commission by helping people Encounter God, Experience Community, and Engage our World in word and deed. Prayer is a spiritual discipline we would focus on under Encountering God.
I want to share some statistics from a book titled The Shape of Faith to Come: Spiritual Formation and the Future of Discipleship by Brad J. Waggoner.
Waggoner states, “One of those disciplines is what many today call a “devotional” or quiet time. Typically a devotional is time when one withdraws from the busyness of life to pray, read the Bible, and seek God. It is often portrayed as an essential discipline for spiritual formation. Attending to the Word of God, prayer, praise, and confession, coupled with a teachable heart and repentant attitude, leads to spiritual transformation. Christians for generations testify to the need of withdrawing from the activities of life to spend time alone with God.”
Do we agree with the understanding that this is a needed discipline in the lives of those who follow Christ? I am sure most of us would affirm this spiritual discipline as necessary. However, as Waggoner and his team asked the sample of churchgoers this question, “How often do you set aside time for private worship, praise, or thanksgiving to God?”, only one-quarter of 2500 people set aside time daily. Another 21 percent said they do it a few times a week, and 13 percent said weekly. Waggoner concludes, “Thus, a majority (59 percent) of our sample spends time alone with God at least weekly, and this is encouraging.”
At Vann we want to believe that we would reflect at least that same percentage or better. I also pray that we would not only be seeking our individual time with God through prayer, praise, and the Word, but I pray our families would be doing it together. We encourage our homes to be places of prayer and worship. We encourage our homes to set aside time, at least once a week, to read Scripture, pray, and praise God for who He is and what He has accomplished for us.
We recently learned the ACTS acrostic to help us in our prayer time. How do I pray? What do I pray for?
Adoration–Praise God for who He is.
Confession–Confess to God our sin and trust in Jesus for our relationship and assurance in Him.
Thanksgiving–Thankfulness to God for all He has provided and continues to provide us with spiritually and physically.
Supplication–Asking God to supply that which we need for life and godliness and for others as well, knowing that many of our friends and family do not even have the access to God we do because of their unbelief in Jesus. We pray for their salvation!
This is only a guide but one to begin with if you are one who has trouble staying focused during prayer. What an opportunity we have to pray to the God of the universe. What a privilege to have access to the throne of grace through the One mediator, Jesus Christ! May we be a people on bended knees, because the power of prayer is in the One who supplies and answers our prayer.