The focus of prayer must always be on God. True prayer reaches out to God and seeks to find God. It meditates on God and internalizes God. If we don’t do these things when we pray, if we go immediately to our requests without thinking about God, I don’t think we have truly prayed. Here are five things that I believe true prayer must include, which is also five ways to keep God On your mind.
- Regard God for who He is and take notice of His attributes.
- We should in some way exalt and praise God for His character.
- We should be grateful to God for who He is, and in some manner thank Him for what He has done for us and in us.
- Desire God to come to us, be real to us, and show Himself to us.
- We should desire to be as He is: to have His character and to let His love flow out from us to serve others.
God has many titles and many wonderful attributes. Jesus has revealed to us eight of His attributes (or titles) in the model prayer He gave to His disciples (Matt. 6:9-13). We will take a close look at the first title, “Father,” as an example of how we could include the five points (above) in prayer. Then we will just briefly touch on the next seven titles (and you can incorporate the five points on your own if you choose).
- In true prayer we regard God, our Father, for who He is. He is truly our Father and we are His sons and daughters. As a father He sympathizes with us in our weakness and shows us mercy and grace (Heb. 4:15-16). As a good father He denies us nothing that is good (Lu. 11:9-13); He always brings us near Him; He loves us, comforts us, and guides us (Ps. 23).
- In true, Spirit filled prayer we exalt our Father for His character. Yes, if we are really praying in the Spirit we will naturally exalt Him for being our Father and for giving us the Spirit of His Son, that is, the Spirit of adoption, in which we sense His love and care for us. By this Spirit, as we pray, we will be moved to cry out “Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).
- In true prayer we thank our Father for what He has done for us. Hence, we are eternally grateful to God for being our Father, for giving us the Spirit of adoption, for including us in His family, and for all the good things He provides for us.
- In true prayer we desire God, our Father, to come to us and be real to us. Yes, when we pray “our Father” we desire that He come to us and show us that He is our Father and that He loves us as His own son or daughter.
- In true prayer we desire to be like God, our Father. In the spirit of our prayers we desire to have the character of God, hence, to nurture and love others with the same fatherly love that He has loved us with.
He is Sovereign—“Father in Heaven.” When we pray we should always be mindful that God is in heaven. That suggests to us that He is above us and greater than us. Psalms 115:3 says, “But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.”
He is Holy—“Hallowed be Your name.” When we pray with true prayer we recognize God as different—as holy. Therefore, in our prayers we are mindful of His holiness, we treat Him as holy, and we desire His holiness for ourselves and for others.
He is King—“Your kingdom come.” When we pray with Spirit filled prayer we are mindful that He is our King. Hence, in the spirit of prayer we are always telling Him that we want to be a part of His kingdom, that we want Him to come and reign over us, and that we want to be willing servants under His rule.
He is Purposeful—“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God has a purpose and a plan for our lives. When we pray, let