Prayer of All Kinds
Prayer should never become a routine experience any more than it should be a rare occurrence. There is never a circumstance in which we are not called to pray. Scripture shows us that sometimes we cry out to God from the darkness (for instance, Psalm 88); at other times we pour out to God our joyful praise over the resplendent majesty of Christ (for instance, Revelation 5:12-14)—and oftentimes we find ourselves somewhere in between.
In Ephesians 6:18, Paul encourages us to come to God (as the NIV puts it) “with all kinds of prayers and requests.” We do not always need to say everything, but it is wise not always to say the same thing. So, what might it look like in practice to speak to our Father about “all kinds” of things? The acronym ACTS serves as a simple and useful memory aid for remembering different kinds of prayer:
A — Adoration: We can come to God and just revel in His greatness. “Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:3). There are an infinite number of reasons to praise God, not only or primarily for what He has done but also for who He is. God is perfect in every way, and so God is worthy of our adoration.
C — Confession: We should recognize in prayer that, as Martin Luther said, repentance is not something that should only be triggered by particular instances of sin but rather should be a daily experience: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” “I am a man [or woman] of unclean lips,” we might confess with Isaiah, “and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). God is worthy of our honest confession.
T — Thanksgiving: The real test for our hearts is what we say and pray when there doesn’t appear to be much to be thankful for. Paul exhorts us, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, emphasis added)—including those we would never have chosen. We are not called to thank Him for all things, but we are to remember that there are always reasons to thank Him, even in the hardest of times.
S — Supplication: It is right to express our needs to our heavenly Father, from whom “every good gift and every perfect gift” comes (James 1:17) and who knows exactly what His children need (Matthew 6:8). We ask, seek, and knock (7:7)—sometimes for big things, sometimes for small ones. Whatever we ask for, God is worthy of our supplication.
Scripture encourages us and guides us to pray in all manner of ways. And when, among all these options, we can’t seem to find the right words, we have no cause for despair. Whatever kinds of prayers and requests we can muster—or can’t—the Spirit of our Lord Jesus always “intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). God is eager to hear you. So pray!
Joy Comes with the Morning
A Psalm of David. A song at the dedication of the temple.
1I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
2O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol;
you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.1
4Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.2
5For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.3
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
6As for me, I said in my prosperity,
“I shall never be moved.”
7By your favor, O Lord,
you made my mountain stand strong;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
8To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
9“What profit is there in my death,4
if I go down to the pit?5
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”
11You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
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