Gospel Prayer

Authentic Prayer

It's easy to feel a barrage of self-doubt when it comes to your prayer life. How do I pray? What should I pray for? Am I praying enough? This spoof of a self-improvement infomercial acknowledges the anxiety many people experience when asked to pray in public. PrayerMasters offers an outrageous solution for a confident prayer life. 

That is an outrageous concept! But this short spoof does hit on the inadequacies many people feel regarding prayer. In this 3-part post, Scotty Smith seeks to encourage believers toward a robust prayer life by centering prayers on the rock-solid foundation of the truth of the gospel.  Scotty is Teacher in Residence at West End Community Church in Nashville, TN. He serves as adjunct faculty for several seminaries, and has authored six books including Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to Gospel Centered Faith.

In this first video, Scotty works from the example of his mentor and friend to show what it means to have authentic prayer. 

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:10“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayedthus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.12I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What similarities do you see between the posture of the tax collector in the parable above and Scotty's description of Jack Miller's posture of prayer?
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What role does humility play in our prayers? How do you exhibit humility when you approach God in prayer?
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What do you think your posture during prayer, both physical and heart posture, reveal about the condition of your heart?
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Both the tax collector and Jack Miller show what it looks like to engage in authentic prayer. This is prayer that is not concerned with the opinions of others, or with maintaining a posture of dignity, but of pressing into the heart of the Father.


It is vitally important to recognize the posture of our heart when we approach God in prayer. But sometimes it's difficult to know how to pray, even when our heart is in the right place. Watch as Scotty works through the A.C.T.S. model of prayer, giving practical wisdom for believers who seek a richer prayer life. 

A.C.T.S. model of prayer:

Adoration – Adore the Lord. Give praise to God for who He is and what He's done. 
Confession – Confess sin in your life. 
Thanksgiving – Thank God for the blessings has given you.
Supplication – Bring your requests before God. Intercede on behalf on others.

What role does adoration play in your prayer life currently? What are you praising the Lord about?
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Is confession a regular part of your prayers? Why is it important to bring our sins before God, even though He is already aware of our missteps?
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How do you express gratitude to God? What does it look like to be thankful in all seasons—in good times and in bad?
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What do you ask God for? How is it honoring to God to bring our requests before Him?
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As Scotty noted, the gospel is the engine driving our prayer life. We begin with a preoccupation with the Lord long before we take our needs to Him. Our prayers should be firmly grounded in an understanding of what God has done for us through Christ and praise should overflow as we approach His throne with confidence. "The gospel is the beginning, the middle, and the end of a robust prayer life."

Praying Scripture

Prayer and Bible reading are often identified as the two main staples of the spiritual diet. As important the two are independently, they can have a profound impact when combined. In this last video, Scotty speaks about the essence of gospel prayer—praying Scripture back to God.

Scotty summarized his method for praying Scripture:
1. Open Scripture and choose a passage
2. Meditate upon the passage (soak and saturate)
3. With gaze set on Jesus, literally pray that Scripture back to God
4. Notice where the Spirit convicts us and connects with that Scripture

Take a few moments and utilize Scotty's method on the passage below.

Psalm 101:1-4 (ESV)

I Will Walk with Integrity

A Psalm of David.

1I will sing of steadfast love and justice;

to you, O Lord, I will make music.

2I will ponder the way that is blameless.

Oh when will you come to me?

I will walk with integrity of heart

within my house;

3I will not set before my eyes

anything that is worthless.

I hate the work of those who fall away;

it shall not cling to me.

4A perverse heart shall be far from me;

I will know nothing of evil.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Take a few moments and write out your prayer. Don't feel like you have to change any of the words, but where the passage is convicting you of sin—confess; where you need help—ask; and where it calls you to praise—rejoice in Him.
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How is the Holy Spirit making application of this passage to your heart (conviction of sin, encouragement, direction)?
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"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.
 but the prayer of the upright is His delight."
(Proverbs 15:8, NASB)

God delights (enjoys, takes pleasure in) the prayers of His children. Let that reality sink in for a while. 

Any number of doubts or distractions will seek to rob you from having a robust prayer life. However, the reward of pressing-in, using some of the practical helps that Scotty suggests, will be a deeper and richer walk with the Lord.

For more from Scotty on this topic, check out his book Everyday Prayers, here.