Here’s the acronym breakdown of this approach to prayer:
P: Present yourself to God without pretense. Be a real person in the relationship. Tell Him whatever is going on inside you that you can identify.
A: Attend to how you ‘re thinking of God. Again, no pretending. Ask yourself, “How am I experiencing God right now?” Is He a vending machine, a frowning father, a distant, cold force? Or is He your gloriously strong but intimate Papa?
P: Purge yourself of anything blocking your relationship with God. Put into words whatever makes you uncomfortable or embarrassed when you’re real in your relationship with Him. How are you thinking more about yourself and your satisfaction than about anyone else, including God and His pleasure?
A: Approach God as the “first thing” in your life, as your most valuable treasure, the Person you most want to know. Admit that other people and things really do matter more to you right now, but you long to want God so much that every other good thing in your life becomes a “second-thing” desire.
Personally, I have found those two “P’s” to be especially healing in my prayer these days–presenting everything before Jesus, my ugly, embarrassing, awkward, ridiculous, and letting Him have it. Wow, I did not realize my great need for this approach to communing with God or His healing power when we are brutally honest with Him with regard to our pain and weakness. He embraces us in it, and that alone is shalom-giving.
Also, here’s what may be some more helpful thoughts:
“Relational prayer is the center of all true prayer. The power of petitionary prayer depends on the centrality of relational prayer.” Here’s how these seem to play out:
False Prayer–A Me-Centered Prayer Life (goes in this order)
- Petition–> “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” – “Bless me, dear God.” – “Give me the good life of fulfillment and joy.”
- Intercession–> “Change Things For My Sake” – “Work in others and in my circumstances with my well-being in view.”
- Thanksgiving–> “Thank You For My Blessings” – “You’re useful. I like it. Keep it up!”
- Worship–> “Here’s My Tip For Good Service” – “I’ll sing and praise You for what You’ve given me.” – “Hey, worship is easy. All I have to do is work up fervent emotions. Sacrifice isn’t required.”
- Relating–> “Tell Me What To Do To Keep The Good Times Rolling” – “I’ll do my part for as long as You do Yours.”
True Prayer–A Relationally(God)-Centered Prayer Life (in this order)
- Relational Prayer–> Draw Near and Listen – Remain in Christ – Let God’s word remain in you
- Worship–> Bend Low As a Living Sacrifice – Surrender every second thing to gain union with God
- Thanksgiving–> In Every Circumstance Give Thanks – Thank God for the unique opportunity every blessing or trial presents to delight God’s heart and reveal Him to others
- Intercession–> May Your Kingdom Come Through Others – Change people’s hearts so that they long to advance Your will
- Petition–> With the Mind of Christ, Ask and Receive – Petitions grow out of a desire for God…expressed by the Spirit’s groaning, discerned by the Father’s searching, furthering the Son’s joy
This of course is no magical incantation, but may be very helpful or even paradigm-shifting for your approach to God in prayer. It has been very good for me. Along these lines, I’ll close with this quote from Crabb:
“Let me speak clearly: I do not recommend the PAPA prayer as a way to make anyone more spiritual. To do so would be to deny both the Spirit’s free sovereignty and our freedom to flow with or resist His movement when it comes. We can make nothing that deeply matters turn out the way we want. So we must keep doing what we can, what we believe we’re directed to do, but not to make anything happen. We are to do what’s right with a growing awareness of our poverty and dependence. The rest is up to Papa. That’s obedience. That’s trust. That’s humility.”
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria