The PRAY Acronym
If you would like to listen to a reading of this article then go to purefaithpodcast.com.
You may have noticed that the Christian faith is full of acronyms, both to aid and describe. Anything from the bibles we discussed in our article ''Best Bible Translation,'' to the journaling guides in ''What is Bible Journaling?'' We use these acronyms for efficiency when naming the Bible type, and guidance for things like journaling (such as the SOAP and ACTS methods). Well, our topic for this article, as you can tell by the title, is prayer. However, we are not discussing prayer in the grand, overarching sense. We are talking specifically about one guided way of prayer that follows the acronym PRAY (pretty easy to remember this one!!). PRAY stands for Praise/Pause, Repent, Ask, and Yield. We will spend the next four sections discussing each part of the PRAY acronym and how it can better your prayer life. Before we get started, I want to say that as long as you are developing a relationship with Jesus Christ, all prayer is good prayer!! PRAY is another tool we will have in our toolbox for building a Christ-like life.
The first piece of the PRAY puzzle is Praise/Pause. Praise/Pause can be used separately, interchangeably, or together. This is really a “choose your own prayer” adventure when it comes to the P. The praise piece may be the easiest part of the entire prayer! For praise, you want to take a few moments to just praise God and acknowledge the attributes that make Him unique and our blessed savior. We all know how loving, forgiving, and understanding He is. This is our opportunity to give respect to His attributes that we try to emulate every single day. Do not put too much thought into this section, just say why you love Christ.
For a pause, we do things just a bit differently. The pause may be self-explanatory, but it is more than just taking a few moments before each prayer to clear your mind. It is taking time to clear your mind, and preparing yourself to be ever-present with your conversation with Him. We want our minds and our hearts to be clear so they are open to all the wonderful things He has to give us during our prayer time.
Now, as I said at the beginning of this section, this is the “choose your own adventure” part of the PRAY acronym. You can use praise or pause, but I suggest using both. There is no downside to preparing your heart and mind for the Lord while also speaking words of praise to Him.
The second puzzle piece within the PRAY acronym is Repent. Simply put, repenting is asking God for the forgiveness of your sins. While repenting for some may be the easiest part of the whole prayer, it may also be the hardest for others. When we repent and ask for that forgiveness, it is not something we can just speed through and gloss over. We need to take that time to explain what we did wrong, why it was wrong, and show that we are wholeheartedly sorry for what we did. If it is not from your heart, it’s just words. Even if it was a little white lie, we need to truly understand why it was wrong and be sorry for what we had done. This allows for growth. I believe the whole reason for repentance is growth. We start to understand what is wrong, which allows for more informed decision-making in the future and allows us to be more like Him. Then, the next time we will be less likely to do the same action/sin, and we can pass that knowledge on to others. We are growing into Christ-like followers and showing others how to do the same through consistent and honest repentance. Next time you are repenting, know everyone on the planet sins. Still, followers of Christ can repent that sin, learn from it, and grow into better followers in the future. Know none of us are perfect! But, we are here to help one another walk this path toward Christ.
After repenting is Ask. Here we want to ask God for any prayer requests we may have gained since we last spoke to Him or that we just want to reiterate to Him. At every church service, our church asks the congregation for prayer requests. Anything from someone having surgery that week, to college kids traveling back to school, to the protection of student football players, and anything that falls in between. Those requests allow everyone to vocalize their ''ask'' and allow others the chance to add those things to their list of prayers. When we take all these things and ask the Lord for His guidance or healing, we want to have a conversation with Him. We are not just using these breaths to ask for anything under the sun we want; we are talking to Him about what His will is. We are asking for Him to place His hand on these things. Maybe an example would help explain what I mean…
E.x., “Jesus, oh our beloved Savior, I am asking you to lay your healing hands on my cousin this week while they go through cancer treatment. He is a strong young man, but nothing beats the touch of Your loving grace. Please be there with Him on Wednesday and through the rest of his journey and allow Your will to be done for him. Thank you, Lord. For all the love and grace you bless our family with. In Your name, I pray, Amen.”
The final piece to the PRAY puzzle is yield. This is, in my opinion, the most tricky and foreign of the four. This is where we want to be silent and still while listening for God's response. This type of yield may not necessarily follow the known definitions of yield, but we treat it as we are yielding to the Lord. We are waiting. Waiting silently and listening - actually listening - for the Lord's response to our prayers. While I know most everyone has never actually ''heard'' the Lord talk to them after a prayer session, many of us can relate to feeling at ease because of Him. I believe the Lord is placing His hand on us and giving us the peace and understanding to go forward and live His will. Do not feel discouraged if you do not necessarily hear or see anything directly from God; He works in mysterious ways! Be ready for that unexpected text from someone, that face-up penny right in front of you, or that sliver of light that shines on you on that gloomy day. He is always there. It is time to yield to Him in silence and listen for His response. If you want to know more about how to yield then you can listen to the Pure Faith Podcasts episode on yielding.
While the PRAY acronym is not a mandatory action for prayer, I hope it has opened your eyes to a new world of praying. And if not, at the very least, I hope it gives you a new option to try while saying your prayers. Our prayer life may not be perfect, but He is, and every action of praying helps bring us one step closer to Him through our relationship with Jesus. I hope you can take that step today.
For more articles on prayer you can check out "SOAP Bible Study Method" or "ACTS Prayer Model." You can also read a series of articles on sin which starts with the article "Where Did Sin Come From?"