Prayer is an essential part of my life as a Christian woman. I have been praying since I was a little girl in church. However, when I learned more about the elements of prayer and its meaning my prayer life expanded and grew.
Prayer is the way that we, as Christians, communicate with our Heavenly Father. We can go directly to Jesus Christ to express our gratitude, concerns, and desires.
What Are The Elements Of Christian Prayer?
There are five elements of Christian prayer. If that seems overwhelming I have great news. There is a really great acronym that makes each element super easy to remember.
The acronym F-A-C-T-S stands for:
How Did Jesus Define Prayer?
Before we dive into the key elements of prayer it is first important to understand what the Bible says about prayer. These five elements of prayer and its meaning comes straight from scripture.
Jesus modeled prayer for us and taught us how to model our own prayers when he gave us The Lord’s Prayer.
The most commonly known translation comes from the King James Version.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)
“After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)
I find that it is always helpful to look at other translations of a Biblical text that I want more understanding of. Because the New International Version is closer to the vernacular we use in everyday life we can take a look at it.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
How Do You Pray In Christianity?
Now that we have taken a look at the type of prayer that Jesus demonstrated for us in the New Testament we can better understand the acronym F-A-C-T-S and how it is derived from the model prayer.
The first letter of the acronym stands for “faith”.
In Matthew 21:22 Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
The quote comes from when Jesus’ disciples were with him outside of Bethany when Jesus cursed a fig tree.
“Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Faith is a cornerstone of Christian tradition so it should come as no surprise that faith should play such a monumental role in our daily prayer life. Jesus demonstrated and explained all throughout his life the great importance of faith.
Another place we see how faith is important in our prayer time is Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Hebrews was written by the apostle Paul to encourage the members of the Church to maintain their faith in Jesus Christ.
We begin our prayers by showing adoration, recognizing God’s greatness, sovereignty, and holiness.
Jesus demonstrated this by beginning his prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
Now you do not need to attempt to use fancy words when you pray. Instead, use your own words. Prayer is about your personal relationship with God so express your faith and adoration in a way that comes from the heart.
For example you may say, “Lord, powerful God, you are the ultimate holy power.” I believe the most important thing in this part of your prayer is sincerity and that can only come when you are speaking and behaving in a way that is true to yourself rather than trying to follow a script.
The next element of Christian prayer is confession. Confession is acknowledging our sins and asking for forgiveness. It is recognizing that we have fallen short of God’s standards and admitting our wrongdoings.
We see this part of Jesus’ prayer when He says, “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.“
When we receive forgiveness for our sins we are experiencing God’s grace and mercy in our lives. This part of our prayers should be sincere and and specific. I also find it helpful in my life to ask the Holy Spirit to guide me in overcoming and recognizing my faults.
Confession of our sin also helps us reflect on how we are living our lives. It is a good time to take stock of if we are focusing on the will of God in our lives rather than our own selfish desires.
Having an attitude of gratitude does absolutely outstanding things for your mindset and is one of the best ways to become a happier person. Thanksgiving is expressing our gratitude to God for His blessings and provision. It is recognizing that everything we have is a gift from God, and not something we have earned or deserved.
I love the Bible verse 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Here Paul was encouraging fellow Christians and addressing their concerns about the second coming of Christ and how they, as children of God, should behave in the meantime. Paul’s instructions to “pray continually” and “give thanks in all circumstances” is so special to me and I do my best to take it to heart.
One way that my mother demonstrated this to me throughout my life was that anytime I was struggling or feeling discouraged she would tell me I needed to say aloud three things I was grateful for or three good things that had happened that day. Paul, and my mom, knew that shifting our mindset to one of gratitude can dispel anxiety and change our mindset.
I think this element of prayer, supplication, is what most people think of when they think about personal prayers. Supplication is asking God for our needs and desires. It is bringing our requests before God and trusting Him to provide for us.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
One of the many beautiful things about being a Christian is that we can call on God’s name and go to Him in prayer for absolutely anything no matter how big or small. If you are having a difficult time, God wants you to turn to Him.
This is such good news! God shows us again and again in scripture He wants to have a deep and personal relationship with us. He cares about everything happening in our lives. You can feel confident and secure going to God in your time of need.
How Do You Pray According To Jesus?
Jesus had more to say about prayer than what He shared with us in The Lord’s Prayer. We read in Matthew, when Jesus was teaching about prayer, the instructions He gave for when to pray and the heart of our prayers.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-8
Essentially, Jesus is saying two things in this passage. We should not use prayer as a way to show off and we do not need to use a lot of meaningless words.
True prayer is meant to be private. That does not mean that you should never pray with others, in fact there are scriptures about that as well. What it does mean is that your prayers should be sincere and you should be praying with the right intentions.
Is There A Right Way To Pray?
With everything that has been outlined about prayer so far you may be wondering if you have been praying wrong. Is there a wrong way to pray? Is there a right way to pray?
I do not claim to have all of the answers but I can share with you my personal convictions and beliefs.
There is no wrong way to pray.
Based on what I have read in the Bible I believe that as long as your heart is in the right place and you are sincere then you cannot “mess up” your prayers. You do not need to search for the right words or the perfect atmosphere.
If you come into the presence of God with humility and sincerity then you are on the right path. Short prayer, long prayer, fancy words, or simple words. Great things will come when you pray from the heart.
Does God Speak When We Pray?
Prayer is how we communicate with God and what is communication if not a dialogue between two parties.
Instead of asking if God speaks to us we should first ask ourselves if we are listening. Personally, I have found that I do not always do the best job of listening to God. I think that is something a lot of people can relate to.
God always answers prayers. He answers every single one.
Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is wait. Sometimes the answer is no.
Elements Of Prayer And Its Meaning
The five elements of prayer are faith, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. We remember the five elements by using the acronym F-A-C-T-S.
When we pray, we should remember to focus on God and His goodness, acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness, express our gratitude for His blessings, ask for our needs and desires, and lift up the needs