To help you remember these four fundamental elements, think of the acrostic P-R-A-Y.
(1) P — praise the Lord. Before you petition God, spend time praising Him. There’s a specific protocol involved when approaching a president or prime minister, and it’s the same when you approach God. The psalmist said, ‘Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him.’ (Psalm 100:4 NIV)
(2) R — repent of your sins. Just like the heat from a furnace forces the impurities in metal to surface so that the refiner can remove them, prayer brings to light attitudes that must be changed, habits that need to be broken, and barriers to spiritual progress that must be removed. And what if you forget some of your sins? Paul tells us, ‘The Spirit helps us in our weakness… He who searches our hearts… intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.’ (Romans 8:26–27 NIV)
(3) A — ask for yourself and for others. Your prayers invite God into the situation, and your faith activates His power to change it. There’s no distance in prayer, and no language barrier it can’t overcome. Like throwing a switch and getting power, light and heat, things start to change when you pray. Jesus said, ‘I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven… whatever doors you open on earth shall be open in Heaven!’ (Matthew 16:19 TLB)
(4) Y — yield to God’s will. If you don’t know what God’s will is, prayer is the starting point. And if you already know and you’re not doing it, prayer will convict, correct, and channel you in the right direction.