As we think about praying there are a number of things we can pray about. Below is an illustration of six key areas that should constitute our prayer life.
- Praise literally means to express a favorable judgment of or to glorify.1 We praise God by agreeing with Him about who He is. For example: "God You are holy, just, good and powerful." In praising God we not only acknowledge who He is but we also remind ourselves who He is.
- Thanksgiving means to give thanks for all that God has done. We often forget all the good things that the Lord has done for us and thanksgiving both expresses thanks to God and reminds us of what He has done.
- Confession is to agree with God regarding our sin, failures, and shortcomings. God already knows what we have done so in confessing our sin we are merely agreeing with Him about what we have done. God has forgiven us and paid the penalty for our sin through Jesus' death on the cross. Thus confession is an acknowledgement of our need for Jesus.
- Intercession means to pray for others. This is a powerful way we can love and help others. Often times there is little we can do to help others but prayer is a significant way we can impact their lives. There are many things we can pray for people: their salvation (for those outside the faith), protection, health, strength, growth in their faith, etc...
- Petition means to pray for yourself. Most of us have no trouble praying for ourselves as we recognize our great need and dependence upon the Lord. One thing we should all pray for ourselves is that God would help us become holy and to overcome temptation.
- Listening to God is important. Most of the time we do all the talking and miss what God is wanting to tell us. He does not force His way into our lives and thoughts, we must allow Him the opportunity. It is important to spend some time in silence just listening for God.
Now as we pray we may not cover all these elements each time we pray but we will certainly cover some of them. Generally the more you cover the richer your prayer experience will be.
1Merriam-Webster, (2003). Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster.