Elements of Prayer: REPENTANCE – Part 1

An important element to include in a prayer time is repentance. Simply put, repentance is turning from sin. When Peter addressed the crowds who gathered around him at the temple he instructed them…

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” (Acts 3:19)

Why is repentance important? It’s important because sin hinders our relationship with God. When a beaver begins to build a dam it begins with one tree. It chews away at the tree until it falls down and begins to block the water from the stream or river. The water can still flow, but it is restricted. As more trees are chewed down, the dam begins to grow and more water is restricted until eventually the stream is completely blocked and no more water can flow.

The same principle works in our spiritual lives which is like the river. It flows with the Holy Spirit. But unconfessed sin forms a blockage, like the felled trees do, so that the Holy Spirit does not flow as much in our lives. The river of the Holy Spirit in our lives is restricted. If this continues, then more and more trees are added and more and more of the Spirit is hindered. The psalmist tells us…

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 6:18)

As we spend time in repentance, we can ask God to show us the sin we need to turn from. Often this sin is obvious to us. But sometimes that sin may lie in attitudes which we have carried for a long time, and which we have become comfortable with and even blind to.  As the Holy Spirit is given permission by us to search our hearts, he can bring these things to light and we can bring them to God in confession. As we confess we receive his forgiveness. To use the beaver’s dam analogy, repentance removes the tree trunks so that the water can flow again.

So make time for repentance. Take time to ask the Lord to show you where you have erected dams in your life (they could have been there a long time). Then ask for the grace and strength to confess those sins, so that the Lord can remove them, and the Spirit can flow freely once more.

Prayer is like Lego

As a child, and as an adult, I have always loved building with Lego. There are so many different ways to put the pieces together and the creations you can make are only limited by your imagination.

It is the same with prayer. There are different elements of prayer which, like Lego bricks, we can build together to make a prayer time. For example, there is the well-known acronym for praying called “A.C.T.S.” This acronym puts together elements of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication, to form an easy to remember formula for praying. You can move through a time of adoration, giving praise to God for who He is and what He has done and then move into a time of confession before the Lord. Then after spending time in thanksgiving, being thankful for the many blessings life gives, the prayer time is concluded by moving into supplication, that is bringing to the Lord the people, events, situations in which we would like Him to work.

There are of course more than just four elements to prayer. Prayer can include times of singing in worship, or listening in silence. Elements of prayer can include intercession for the needs of others or petition for our own needs. Meditation, reading and praying Scripture, journaling, are just a few examples, but the list can go on. These elements can be put together in different orders to make very different prayer times. You can have quiet times of prayer with meditation and journaling or expressive prayer times with singing and loud declarations of Scripture.

The beauty of prayer is that these elements can be combined in so many ways. The possibilities are endless. So prayer should never become routine and stale. If prayer begins to feel like a simple routine, then perhaps it’s time to mix things up a little and add a new element to our prayer time. This keeps our prayers fresh and stop us from getting stuck in a rut. We shall look at some of these elements in the next few weeks.

But as you think about your prayer times right now, what are the elements you include when you pray? Are there elements you spend more time on than others? Maybe it’s time to consider building a new prayer structure and try a different element of prayer.