Bob Tamasy: A Simple Prescription For Effective Prayer

Thursday, November 18, 2021 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

One of the essential, yet mysterious parts of a growing relationship with God is something called prayer. We find it in many forms: long, eloquent public orations by very religious-sounding individuals; very formalized liturgy repeated every Sunday in some congregations; very simple, humble expressions of men, women and children. All hoping to connect with the divine.

 

Prayer is something we all know we should do, but many of us would agree, “It’s so hard!” Where’s the best place to pray? The proper posture for praying? What are the right words to use? It seems so mysterious, especially seeking to commune with Someone we can’t see or touch.

 

Workshops, even entire conferences, are devoted to the subject of prayer.

Countless books have been written on the topic. And yet many of us continue to ask, “What is the right way to pray?”

 

I’ll never claim to be an expert on prayer. It’s something I know I should do more, probably with greater fervency. But when I find myself stumbling around, trying to get past a prayerful roadblock, I often resort to a simple formula for prayer that I learned years ago:

A – adoration

C – confession

T – thanksgiving

S – supplication

 

There are many other approaches that can be used, but this one seems to put things into their proper perspective. By starting with adoration – or praise – we place our focus on God, rather than whatever we think we need or desire for Him to provide.

 

Confession effectively cleans the slate as we take to the Lord our sins – acts of disobedience or rebellion that create “static” and interfere with or disrupt our communication with the God of all creation.

 

Thanksgiving is grateful recognition of who God is, as well as acknowledgement of what He has already done and what we trust He will do in response to our prayerful requests.

 

Then the “supplication” portion comes, even though we’re tempted to start our prayers with that. Years ago, a man I worked with observed that sometimes as we pray, we act as if God were a spiritual “short-order cook,” serving up whatever we select from the “menu.” Preceding our requests by adoration, confession and thanksgiving puts us into a more worshipful frame of mind. We can find ourselves more aligned with the Lord and His will. Sometimes this might even change what we ask for – or how we ask.

 

We can find this simple model or something like it many places in the Bible, but one special example is found in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. This cupbearer for King Artaxerxes of Persia had learned about the ruined state of his hometown before exile, Jerusalem in Israel. The distressing news caused him to sit down and weep.

 

Feeling compelled to personally engage in the repair of the once-proud city’s walls and gates, Nehemiah knew he would need the king’s permission. However, before approaching Artaxerxes with the uncertainty of how he would respond, the royal servant first turned to God in prayer. Recorded in Nehemiah 1:5-11, he began by addressing “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands.”

 

Next Nehemiah prayed, “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house, have committed against you….” He then recounted God’s promise to restore His people and “bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name….”

 

Only then did Nehemiah get to the matter at hand, his wish to lead the extensive rebuilding of the Lord’s holy city: “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man [Artaxerxes].”

 

When asked why he looked so sad, Nehemiah received the opportunity to express to the king what had happened to the city, but silently preceded his explanation with another brief prayer to God for His wise direction. Artaxerxes did authorize his cupbearer to undertake the ambitious project, even assisting with needed resources and protection.

 

This is just one biblical illustration, but it shows that prayer is simply honest, sincere communication with God. In one sentence, Philippians 4:6 offers a summation of this process: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Couple this with the concise admonition of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing,” and we have a prescription for prayer that enables us to cut through unnecessary religious red tape.

 

Prayer is a privilege the Lord extends to His children as our Abba Father. Jesus Christ, by His once-for-all atoning sacrifice, has made it possible for us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). This is something we can “ACTS” upon with abounding joy.


* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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