Christians pray – it's what we do. But sometimes we don't feel like it, sometimes we wonder what it's achieving, and sometimes we just don't know how.
Here is a framework for prayer based on the word ACTS:
Adoration: begin by remembering who God is and praising him for his creation and redemption.
Confession: admit that you are not the person you ought to be and bring to mind the things that you've done wrong. Say you're sorry.
Thanksgiving: spend time thinking about the good things in your life and thank God for them. Count your blessings.
Supplication: last of all, ask God for things. We may not understand how prayer 'works', but we can still believe God hears us when we pray.
We can learn a lot about prayer from seeing how people prayed in the Bible. When we do that we see that they didn't always find it easy either and that they probably had many of the same questions and frustrations that we do.
So here are 10 verses to encourage us as we think about prayer (all NIV).
1. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 6-7)
2. When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words (Matthew 6:7).
3. When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind (James 1:6).
4. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).
5. When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place (Psalm 118:5).
6. I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
7. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26).
8. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Psalm 145:18).
9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
10. Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).