On Christian Life

5 Ways to Pray

There’s no way to make an ice cream sundae wrong.

Do you like bananas? Throw some in.

Do you like chocolate syrup? Pour it on.

Do you like sprinkles, cherries, whipped cream, walnuts or pickles? Go ahead and…wait, pickles? Ok, put those on there too. We’re only imagining, right?

The point is that we all have different tastes. We all have a different history with ice cream and we know what we like. And unless you’re lactose intolerant, making an ice cream sundae should excite you.

The last couple weeks we’ve been talking about how to pray. You can check those out here and here. Both weeks stressed the main points of prayer: thanking God, praising God, and submitting to God. This week I want to conclude our discussion on prayer by giving you 5 more ways to pray.

  1. PACT – this stands for Praise, Ask, Confess, and Thank. Spending time in each of these areas when we pray is key to drawing closer to God and feeling more of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Also, it’s kind of cool to think of prayer like a pact. Our relationship with God is, after all, a 2-way street. We bring all the baggage and needs, and God brings all the help and healing.

Let’s define a few terms:

Praise – telling God how awesome he is

Ask – making our requests to God

Confess – being honest with God that we sinned

Thank – saying to God what we’re grateful for

  1. Musical worship – growing up in predominantly white evangelicalism, the music in my churches was supposed to conjure emotions, but it was inappropriate to express them in church. If a song was really touching a nerve, I might shed a silent tear and close my eyes.

But worshipping with music is supposed to be expressive. We use music when we worship to speak the language of our souls. So when we worship God with music, singing, playing, dancing, bowing, painting, etc. we are speaking directly from our hearts to God’s. God loves the music we make for him. Sometimes that means we’re silent before him, but worshipping is prayer. Express yourself.

  1. Scripture – this might mean praying:

A psalm: if you’re angry, afraid, depressed, elated, lonely, or any other emotion, there’s a psalm for you.

A passage: Ephesians 1:17-23, Philippians 4:8, or 3 John 2. There are countless more. When we speak the Holy Spirit’s words in Scripture back to him, our prayers pack an extra punch. They contain Truth.

  1. A written prayer – which can come in one of two different forms: ones you write and ones written by others.

Prayers you write are usually through journaling. If you’re looking for a way to gauge God’s faithfulness, a prayer journal is key. Being able to look back on the prayers of your past through the lens of your current life, you start to see what God was doing. In my own life, the one time I successfully journaled prayers was before I met my wife. I wrote down prayers for my future wife. Now looking back on those prayers 20 years later, I see that God was at work in me.

Prayers others write can be found throughout Christian history. Outside of the Bible, there are millions of saint that have come before us. Here are some ideas. And some more.

Reading a pre-written prayer does not make it less heartfelt, meaningful, or effective. Consider it like finding the perfect anniversary card for your spouse. Sometimes, Hallmark says it better.

  1. The Lord’s Prayer – no discussion on prayer is complete without including the Lord’s Prayer. When Jesus was asked by his first disciples how to pray, this is literally the prayer he gave them. Did he mean for us to recite it? (See discussion of #4 above). Yes, certainly. Did he mean for it to be a guide for how we pray? Yes, certainly.

Think of it this way. If you asked God a direct question like, “How should I invest my money?” and the response was clear and direct, “Only buy physical gold and real estate” what would we do? I’d be selling all my stocks and buying gold and rental properties. This exchange with the disciples was no less clear.

“Jesus, how should we pray?”

“Pray like this…”

Finding the style, the approach that is needed with your prayer is a matter of need. Just like there are many ways to make a delicious sundae, there are many ways to pray. The point is that you do it.

If you’re wondering about how to find time to pray at all, I have a blogger friend who has discussed this. Check it out at onelostcoin.com.

What are some other ways you have learned to pray? Is it a chore for you or does it flow from you easily? Please comment below.

I am a husband, a father and a follower of Christ. I have been an entrepreneur, a pastor and a politician. Through many hardships I have learned lessons about faith and life. I am also a contributing writer on faithbeyondfear.com. Follow me on Twitter @twelve2nds. If you want to contact me, write me at chip@chipmattis.com.

30 Comments

  • Anne Mackie Morelli

    Thanks for your posts on prayer. I love to read about spiritual practises such as prayer so that I can learn more about them. So I have really enjoyed reading your posts and your perspectives on pray. Blessings.

  • Christy

    I hadn’t heard of PACT. I have used ACTS, however, which is almost the same, but in different order. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. PACT uses more up-to-date language. (But then again, I’m old, lol.)

    • Chip Mattis

      I have come across ACTS as well, which has a nice tie-in to the NT 🙂 You could also use PRAY–Praise, Restore, Ask, Yield which is kind of the structure of the Lord’s Prayer. Thanks for sharing!

  • susanhomeschooling

    Connecting with God, basking in His presence, crying out to Him for what we need to endure this life, interceding for those we love, bursting into songs of praise and thanksgiving–all this is prayer! 🙂

    • Chip Mattis

      Yes, yes, yes! Prayer is so much more than closing our eyes and asking God for things. It’s our way of being with God, wherever he is, wherever he’s going. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Bob Hayward

    Nice post and questions – thank you

    Most of my prayers evolve around the Lord’s Prayer – I’ve tend to expand each of the sentances – to add scripture and song to them and of course to add my confession and questions or requests in – trying to avoid it sounding like a shopping list.

    I have a written prayer list to help remind me of things I’ve thought to prayer about or offered to others that I will pray about.

    From the PACT model I will start adding more thanks to the end as well – that feels good

    • Chip Mattis

      Excellent, Bob! I’m glad you found it helpful. I read a book on the Lord’s Prayer in college that expounded on the ideas Jesus was teaching. It was so insightful. Thanks for the comments!

  • Paul Zunker

    Prayer (worship) is so much more than just talking to God and sending Him our requests. It’s spending time in His presence worshiping Him, or just being silent in awe of Him! Thanks for thoughts here Chip and for the PACT acronym. That will be a help during my quiet times!

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks for the thoughts, Paul! You’re so right. It bothers me when worship is reduced to the slow dance songs with God (picture a junior high dance). Worship and prayer are so much broader. It’s how we spend time with our heavenly father. Great point, Paul. Thanks for reading!

  • Melinda Viergever Inman

    The right where I am outburst, talking to God out loud as Jesus did, as if the Father was right there, because he is – that’s my preferred method. Also the written prayer that I transcribe into my Bible study notes – both favorites of me.

    This statement you wrote highlights the challenge for many of us who grew up in church: “growing up in predominantly white evangelicalism, the music in my churches was supposed to conjure emotions, but it was inappropriate to express them in church. If a song was really touching a nerve, I might shed a silent tear and close my eyes.”

    That. It messed us up.

    David stripped down to his understand and danced and sang before the ark as they brought it to the temple once again. His wife mocked him. God did not look upon her words favorably, but he did upon David’s heart and his action. Many of us received wrong teaching about expressing our emotions. I’ve never danced down the aisle at church. Yet. But I am a weeper, kneeler, and (gasp) hand raiser. In heaven, we’ll walk and leap and dance in our praise before our God – just like the blind man who was healed. Just like the apostles and elders and martyrs are pictured doing in Revelation.

    Thank you for sharing this openly. It’s the truth. A great post!

    • Chip Mattis

      Yes! You’re so right, Melinda. David’s worship was unabashed. How restrained have we made our worship? How much are we missing by being conscious of ourselves and our neighbors instead of being conscious of God alone? Worship is giving God his due. He deserves it all, but I’m worried that I often give him with a closed fist. Thank God for his great grace!
      I have learned a lot from my friends of color and other nationalities. These saints have helped me see the wonderful mosaic that worshiping God is. The point is less about how we do it than about whether we do it at all. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Chloe Flanagan

    Thank you for sharing these great points about prayer. I like how you discussed the diverse types of prayer as they are all powerful ways of connecting with God. I especially appreciate that you mention written prayers. I belong to a church that uses the Book of Common Prayer. Sometimes it’s tough to explain the impact and meaning of these written prayers to my brothers and sisters from other traditions.

    • Chip Mattis

      What a great point, Chloe. I didn’t appreciate the value of written prayers until I went to a Free Methodist college. It was so wonderful. Some of those prayers from the saints before me are full of the Holy Spirit. I find myself reciting the creeds and the prayers of Saint Francis. I’m so glad you liked the post. Feel free to subscribe and get regular posts!

  • Yvonne

    Awww, i’m Sad this series is ending. I have learned lots of new ways to change up my prayer life so it is not the same old boring thing (on my side, never for God). I think it is important to have a variety of options for prayers each day so it does not become routine. Thanks Chip.

    • Chip Mattis

      You’re so kind, Yvonne. Thanks.
      I’m glad it was helpful to you. I want to keep bringing value to the Church, so I’ll see what other topics might be relevant. Feel free to suggest topics 🙂 I really appreciate your comments.

  • Marcie Cramsey

    Loved this post! Prayer is very important to me. When I write my prayers in my journal it seems like they are more focused and meaningful. Thank you for saying that rereading or praying previous prayers we’ve written does not make them less meaningful. This is so true. Repeating them is persistence in prayer.

    • Chip Mattis

      Oh man! Yes. Repeating our prayers that we’ve written is a wonderful way to engage. It’s the persistence in faith that really blesses God’s heart. Jesus literally tells us how God sees it with his parable about that annoying lady asking for stuff from the king or the annoying neighbor at the door. Thankfully, God is much more gracious, so our persistence is not an annoyance but a joy to God. Good thoughts!

  • karentfriday

    Insightful and helpful post on prayer, Chip. I remember when a mentor encouraged me to pray Scripture back to God and how powerful it is. And I love to insert my name and the names of others into Bible passages to make it more personal. Like,

    God is faithful, by whom Chip was called into the fellowship of his son Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:9

    And journaling and worship are favorites too. Sometimes we leave out the praise and thanks in our prayers, thinking about give-me prayers. Oh, how it must grieve the Lord’s heart if we only approach prayer as a kid with a catalog in hand or the latest I-want-that mindset. For He is worthy to be praised and thanked for how great He is and the great things He has done.

    Thanks for the wisdom.

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks, Karen. That’s a fantastic idea! I’ve heard of replacing Israel or Jerusalem in the Psalms, but I’ve never considered inserting my name into the verses elsewhere. I’m going to try that! Thanks!

  • nancyehead

    I remember a pastor teaching that we need to practice the presence of God. When we do, we can praise, ask, confess to, and thank Him all day long. And that’s being with Him all our lives. Great post! God bless!

  • Elaine Goddard

    I love this guide to praying using PACT. I am excited to see the P for praise! I so often see these as just ACT. And I really like your definition for praise as ‘telling God how awesome He is’.

    • Chip Mattis

      Thanks, Elaine! I tend to eschew our modern American definition of praise as either singing fast songs to God or simply complimenting him. The idea is to heap our joy in the Lord on the Lord. He deserves it after all. Thanks for commenting.

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