Last week, we dipped our toe into the principles found in the Lord’s Prayer as a guide for understanding how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer can be a little daunting to understand, but buried within it’s poetry are rich principles to learn for talking with our Heavenly Father. We introduced a technique for remembering how to pray: the acrostic P – R – A – Y. The first letter stands for “Praise”, which is where we should always start. If you read last week’s post, we hope you took lots of opportunities to praise God. If you haven’t read it, we encourage you to check it out before getting in to the next three letters of our acrostic.
The next letter, ‘R’ stands for Repent.
It really feels good to praise the Lord and remember His goodness and as we praise Him, we should begin to see how much we need Him and don’t deserve His kindness and grace. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus demonstrates an attitude of seeking forgiveness, walking away from sin, toward the presence and glory of God. These are the essence of repentance. Any time we pray, we should be praising God for His greatness and majesty while moving toward an attitude of repentance. We cannot stay on the spiritual and emotional “high” of praise and neglect our sin and need for His grace. The right action to follow the heels of praising God is that of repentance. Our hearts are moved and we begin to humbly understand our need for grace and seek His forgiveness. This humble attitude puts us in the right posture for the next part of our prayers.
The letter ‘A’ stands for Ask.
As we praise God for all that He has done and is capable of doing, we are moved to repentance. Now our heart is in the right place. We are aware of who God is and that we are completely in need of Him. We know that whatever we need, we can ask Him for it. With humble confidence, we can approach our Heavenly Father, Almighty God, and Loving Savior knowing He is able to supply all of our needs. Asking is an important part of prayer. It is not more humble to avoid asking when we are in need; in fact, that is the opposite of humility. Philippians 4:6 says “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” (NLT) He is our Good Father. As such, He wants us to ask Him questions, present our needs, and even tell him what we desire. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus demonstrates asking for four things in humility while praising God and seeking forgiveness. The same should be true of our prayers, that we have a humble heart when we ask. As a way to make sure we are making our requests known with humility, we start with praise and repentance. This puts us in the right frame of mind to know we can enter boldly into His throne room.
The last letter of our P – R – A – Y acrostic is “Y”: Yield.
Yield means “give way to arguments, demands, or pressure”. This last piece is vitally important to our prayers and goes along with praying humbly before God. We see Jesus’ example of yielding embedded throughout the Lord’s prayer: “…your kingdom come, your will be done…for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory…”. Yielding brings us full circle again, back to acknowledging God’s power and glory, similarly to how we started with praise. The difference is that we have engaged in asking. Now that we’ve asked our Good Father for what we need, we surrender everything to His control. By yielding, we let Him respond according to His goodness, greatness, and glory. We allow God to give us the exact, perfectly right, best things for us. Yielding may be difficult because we don’t know everything and can’t always see Him at work. However, we can count on the fact that He hears and responds to every prayer. When we yield our requests humbly back to God, we can rest in the promise that He is already working on our behalf.
Putting it all together
P – Praise
R – Repent
A – Ask
Y – Yield
You don’t have to use this acrostic every time you pray. This isn’t a set guideline for prayer. Our hope is that this simple guide helps you get started with the regular habit of talking to God. Jesus’ example in the Lord’s prayer was given to teach us the how-to’s of prayer. We learn from His example that we can talk to God no matter where we are or what we need. The daily practice of prayer will be the best skill you ever learn.