Prayer and Doing
Jay Adams talks about three common questions he used in counseling: “What is your problem: What have you done about it: What do you expect me to do about it?” In his experience the second question is typically a one word answer, “Prayer”.
As discussed in a prior post prayer does not shift or punt the problems of life to God. There is no shift of the problem to God and thus you are free to go about daily life, except to maybe pray more, and wait.
We are foolish to expect God’s answer to prayer to drop from the sky or be some audible answer. Adams uses the example of eating. We are taught in the “Lord’s Prayer” to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”… and yet none of us, if we expect to eat, sit and wait for a bag of fast food to drop out of the sky. 2 Thess. 3:10 further teaches us that if a man refuses to work, then he should also not be fed. This all seems to clearly indicate that there is more to our problems than just prayer. There needs to be action that accompanies the prayer. Prayer is only the beginning point of dealership with a problem.
Philippians 4:6-9 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Typically we read verses 6 and 7 and say “There it is, I just need to ask for peace and I should get it”. So many Christians seem to be praying for peace in life these days and are not getting it, why is that? Could it be because we have neglected to read on in context? In verses 8 and 9 Paul gives us some bold things to do in striving to attain that peace. We are to work on changing our thinking and check what are right and wrong thoughts. We are to actively emulate Paul and he is only emulating Christ. There is nothing about waiting until you get peace until you start to do these. We are to be doing them within and during the pursuit of peace. Paul qualifies in verse 9 that we are not to be seeking peace so much that we neglect that God is the God of peace, and that it is ultimately Him that we have gained in our salvation, and not just a self achieved personal peace of mind. In short prayer is just step one, of actively working towards anything you are praying about. If all you are doing is praying about something, maybe it’s time to start taking part in doing.
The Christian Doctrine of Prayer:
In the simplest and most correct form I know of I wish to present the ACTS model of praying. In other words the word ACTS is really an acronym for recalling elements of prayer the Bible gives us.
Adoration is the first word of the acronym. Thanking God for more than what He gives, but for who and what He is. The adoration is lacking when it centers on what God gives and our current feelings about our current life situation. We may struggle with contentment about life in general, but we should always be far more than content and even ecstatic that we have the One true God looking out for us.
Confession is the word making up the next letter of the acronym. In general it is saying the same thing, about ourselves that God has revealed about us in His word. Because the Christian is in Christ and free from the judgment to come, he can honestly confess sin when he has committed it, and return and talk to God about it.
Thanksgiving is the third word of the acronym. Thanksgiving is the Christians expression of gratefulness in all things that no matter what our losses are, the Christian will not drift or float away into utter despair because he is anchored to the thankfulness of salvation in Christ.
Supplications is the last word from this acronym. It is simply making our requests be made known to God (I’ll get into more details about this in a future post).
Adams, Jay E. A Theology of Christian Counseling.Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.