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“The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.” — Martin Luther

I remember early on as a follower of Jesus, I would hear people reference their desire and ability to go to a quiet place with only their Bible and emerge after four hours refreshed, renewed, and revitalized. If I’m honest, the prospect of this scenario seemed overwhelming and the direct opposite of refreshing. I think this was mainly because of my lack of perspective on the benefits and blessings of a time of studying.

Studying is one of the most important areas in which to figure out a sustainable rhythm. When I’ve attempted to read through the Word with no real plan, I’ve found myself lost, confused, and bored. A breakthrough came when I started to ask the Lord to show me what He desired for me to see. When we read God’s Word, we must continually say, “This is talking to me.” The Bible is not an impersonal story about the past; it is the living Word of God. It is an ongoing narrative of which we are a part. Our hope is to gain insight on life and direction through the revealed Word of God. Eugene Peterson says it best: “The goal of reading the Word is to listen for the voice of the God who speaks.” There is a reason that Psalm 119 refers to the Word of God as a lamp to our feet and light to our path. Scripture helps to guide and direct us as we seek to understand the richness of its truth.

The Bible is filled with reminders of the significance and power that accompanies studying, learning, and resting in the Scripture and precepts of God. Paul teaches in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Studying God’s Word allows us to ingest his truth so that it can permeate all of our inner self. When we focus on Scripture, it reminds us of who God truly is and who we are in light of that truth. The Word gives us understanding that helps us to teach and guide others according to God’s principles. Understanding the Word produces thankfulness that causes us to sing and encourage one another with God’s promises.

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Christians often use a simple acrostic as a guide to prayer: A.C.T.S. Each of the letters in this acrostic stands for one of the key elements of prayer:

(A) Adoration

(C) Confession

(T) Thanksgiving

(S) Supplication

But not only does this acrostic remind us of the elements of prayer, it shows us the priority we ought to give to each.

The first element of prayer should be adoration, or praise. The Psalms, which are inspired samples of godly prayer, are heavily weighted on the side of adoration. I’ve noticed over many years that as we grow in the discipline and in the delight of prayer, it seems that we naturally spend more and more of our time on this first element.

Second, prayer should include confession of our sin; as we remember who we are when we come into God’s presence, we see that we have come short of His holiness and have need of His forgiveness.

Third, when we pray, we should always give thanks, remembering the grace and mercy God has shown toward us.

Fourth, prayer rightly includes supplication or petition, bringing our requests for the needs of others and ourselves to God.

I think this is a helpful acrostic for remembering both the elements and the priorities of prayer. Unfortunately, we often spell our prayer life something like S.C.A.T., because we start with supplication and spend very little time, if any, on adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.

The Lord’s Prayer

When we look at the Lord’s Prayer, we see adoration at least implied in the petition “Hallowed be Your name.”

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Illustration of Proverbs 3:5-6

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.6-7).

Why We Should Pray

“And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ ”

A young lawyer who had just opened his law practice was sitting in his chair behind his new executive desk, waiting for his first client to come in. When he saw a man walking toward his office, he picked up the phone and began talking to his imaginary assistant. He said, “Yes, I am so busy right now. Ask them to call back. I have so many clients, I just don’t have time.” He hung up the phone, sure that he had just impressed his first visitor.

“I’m from the phone company,” the man said. “I’m here to connect your phone.”

That’s how it is for us when we try to impress God with things we say and do. Jesus told the story of two men who went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11–12 NKJV).

The other was a tax collector who simply said, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (verse 13 NKJV).

Jesus said of the tax collector, “This man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (verse 14 NKJV). The primary problem of the Pharisees, the religious elite, was that prayer, for them, was theater. It was a performance. They would stand praying on a street corner, and sometimes someone would sound a trumpet. Jesus was saying that God doesn’t care about things like that. They were so concerned with impressing people, but God wasn’t impressed.

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“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

~ James 1.2-4

“When the saint ceases to seek after holiness, purity, righteousness, truth; when he ceases to pray, stops reading the Word and gives way to carnal appetites, then it is that Satan comes.”

~ Smith Wigglesworth

Smith Wigglesworth preaching.jpg

DO NOT BE INFLUENCED BY THE IMPORTANCE
OF THE WRITER, AND WHETHER HIS LEARNING
BE GREAT OR SMALL, BUT LET THE LOVE OF
PURE TRUTH DRAW YOU TO READ. DO NOT
INQUIRE, “WHO SAID THIS?” BUT PAY ATTENTION
TO WHAT IS SAID.
MEN PASS AWAY, BUT THE WORD OF THE
LORD ENDURES FOREVER.

~ THOMAS À KEMPIS
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST

Illustration of Romans 15:13

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