…Or can I just give thanks to God and then sit in silence?
I’m still relatively new to the whole concept of praying — until a couple years ago I’d never said a prayer in my life. So my prayers are, well, awkward. They sound more like I’m reading a legal contract than like I’m communicating with the Creator of the universe. I generally follow the A.C.T.S. model (Adoration / Confession / Thanksgiving / Supplication), and it’s the whole “S” part of it where I tend to get hung up.
Last night, for example, after praising God, expressing regret for my sins and giving thanks for my blessings, I wanted to pray for a good outcome for our car that just went into the mechanic’s shop since we’ve already spent a lot of money on repairs. It went something like this:
Lord, I would like to ask for a miracle: that whatever caused the minivan to go completely dead be only a minor, inexpensive repair. (Oh, and how great was I at offering up that whole situation where I finally got all the fussy kids strapped into their carseats only to hear that click-click-click sound when I tried to start the car? I didn’t even curse!…Not out loud, anyway.)
But, as always, I am open to whatever your will is in this situation. So in the event that it is your will that this is an expensive repair, my prayer is that you will send us some extra money to help us pay for it. Or, in the event that it is your will that it is an expensive repair and we will not receive any extra money to pay for it, I ask that you give me the grace to handle the strain on our finances without getting too stressed and grouchy. Or, in the event that it is your will that the car is beyond repair and completely dead, I ask for three things: a) the grace not to freak out, b) guidance to find another car of a reasonable price, and c) patience to figure out how I’ll keep the household running if I’m without a car for an extended period of time. Or, in the event that it is your will that…
You get the idea. When I try to combine asking for things in prayer with being open to God’s will, it’s just a mess.
So lately I’ve been doing my own modified A.C.T.S. prayer, which is more like Adoration / Confession / Thanksgiving / Shut Up, where I sit in prayerful silence and trust that God knows what I want, including all the alternate requests if his will is not what I’d hoped it would be.
It seems sort of strange not to ask for anything in prayer, but is it wrong? Am I somehow missing out or not growing in holiness if I don’t articulate my desires for God? Again, I am not very good at this whole praying thing, so I’d be interested to hear what others think.
[NOTE: Since I’m sure someone is going to recommend it, I should note that I do have The Fire Within. I was actually reading it last month but put it down because I was having a hard time getting through it. For some reason I found it really hard to get into. I’m listening if anyone wants to tell me to give it another chance though.]
UPDATE: A lot of the great responses I’ve received so far remind me of some of the excellent insights on prayer that I got from the book Journey to Easter. I hadn’t thought to apply that advice to this situation, but I think it’s really perfect. Thanks!
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