There is a story about a small town in the south that was alcohol free until a local businessman decided to open a bar. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and burned it to the ground. The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that “no matter how this comes out, one thing is clear: The bar owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not” (Pivotal Praying, page 51). Do you believe in the power of prayer?
Prayer is not just a religious activity; it is a relationship. When we pray we connect with the very heart of God in order to listen for his voice to align our lives with his will. Jesus taught his disciples how to pray in what is referred to as “the LORD’s prayer. The model he provides helped his disciples and helps us.
“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. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” -Jesus (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)
I created an acronym based on the LORD’s prayer. The acronym is PAPER and this is what the acronym means:
P = praise. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” When we praise God we worship Him because He is awesome, powerful, righteous and just. When we praise God we are giving him the recognition and glory He deserves.
A = alignment. “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When we pray we should be asking the Holy Spirit to help us align our lives up with God’s written Word. God isn’t a vending machine so don’t expect God to answer every prayer in the way that you would expect a vending machine to work. Sometimes God’s will is wait and sometimes God’s will is to trust Him and keep walking with Him, even when you don’t see any tangible results because He has a bigger plan that we might not understand.
P = provision. “Give us today our daily bread.” There is no request too big for God or too small for God. You don’t have to pray using big words or catch phrases, simply open your heart to God. Pray for yourself and others presenting your requests with honesty and sincerity.
E = exoneration. “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” When we pray for exoneration we are asking God to forgive us of our sins and to help us forgive others.
R = rescue. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” We need God to rescue us from the temptations we face. All of us face temptations and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to resist them. If you don’t ask God to help you when you are tempted, you will be more likely to give in.
If you don’t believe that God answers prayers, you will never see any prayers answered. The author of Hebrews writes: “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 11:6). You must believe if you want to receive. The PAPER acronym is simply a tool you can use to keep you centered in the LORD’s prayer because the LORD’s prayer is centered in the LORD’s will. I want to encourage you to pray, because God is willing to listen and ready to respond.