Advent Day 3

Advent Day 3:  Prayer

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,  praising God and saying,
   “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”   (Luke 1:14)  

Ah, the dreaded outline.  Did you ever have to make an outline for a class:  an outline of a paper, or of a chapter you read in your textbook?  Boring, huh? 

Yet I think the opposite can be true for prayer.  Sometimes we just have no idea what to say to God.  If you’ve ever experienced a lack of words (or if you think your words are getting in the way), try “outlining” your prayer.   It may feel fake at first, but after a while it may help you guide your thoughts.  Here are some suggested outlines, and you can make up your own.

“ACTS” outline:  this contains all the elements of the Lord’s Prayer, by the way.  I’ll write more about the Lord’s Prayer in a later post.

Adoration:   praising God.  Begin your prayer by reflecting on what’s great about God.  My experience using this outline is that this is the most difficult step.  What can I say that doesn’t sound cheesy, or hasn’t been said better by someone else?  Sometimes for this step I just sit and enjoy God’s presence, to help me stop worrying about what to say and to put me in the right frame of mind for prayer.  Or, I repeat the words to a hymn or praise song.

Confession:  letting go of whatever you did wrong and asking for forgiveness and restoration.

Thanksgiving:  just like what it says.  Give thanks to God.

Supplication:  this means asking for things.  It’s OK to ask for healing for sick people, and guidance for confused people, for world peace, and so on.  I don’t think supplication is about asking God for magic tricks.  Instead, sometimes as we pray over and over for something, we begin to see the world through God’s eyes, and we see how God is already answering our prayers.  Also, sometimes through supplication God helps us accomplish what we pray for.  Those who pray for peace may learn over time how to become peacemakers, for example.

“Breath Prayer” outline.  You can do this in one of two ways. 

First, you can say a word such as “ask” when you breathe out, and “receive” when you breathe in.  Other useful words:  peace, love, hope, Spirit, shalom, I, Thou, one, many.

Second, you can stretch the prayer out, spending some time looking inward and then considering the world around you.  I used to do this in a particular place I would walk every morning:  on the first half of the walk I would lift up whatever was going on in my life to God, and on the second half I would ask God for direction on how I would be a servant in God’s world that day.

May your prayers be like the breath of life.  (see Genesis 2.)

Today’s daily Scripture reading from the PC(USA):  http://gamc.pcusa.org/devotion/daily/2010/11/30/

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