1) Praise: Praise is our response to the person of God. We praise him for who he is. Praise is not noise, just as reverence is not silence. It is the acknowledgment of God’s greatness. It is recognizing he is “hallowed,” or “holy,” as the Model Prayer tells us (see Matt 6:9). Sometimes reading a Psalm of praise helps here. Beginning with praise starts our praying with a focus on God, not us, which is always best.
2) Thanksgiving: This is our response to the goodness of God. Thank him for what he has done. “Enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Ps 100:4). “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess 5:18). An attitude of gratitude should permeate our lives.
3) Confession: Confession is our response to the holiness of God. Our sins will hinder our praying (see Ps 66:18). As we pray, we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal each sin in our lives. Then we can confess the sin (see 1 John 1:9) and forsake it. When broken relationships are involved, we should seek to make them right as well (see Matthew 5). Remembering God’s forgiveness in Christ also helps us to be forgiving to others.
4) Intercession: This is our response to the love of God. Intercession means taking time to pray on behalf of others. When we ask of God, Foster reminds us, we are not “trying to manipulate God and tell Him what to do. Quite the opposite. We are asking God to tell us what to do. God is the ground of our beseeching… Our prayer is to be like a reflex action to God’s prior initiative on the heart.”[i]
5) Petition: Petition is our response to the love of God for us. It is appropriate and necessary for us to ask God to meet our needs.
6) Listening: Listening is our response to the voice of God. You may not be aware of it, but wherever you are as you read this, noises are all around you.
Prayer operates the same way. God is constantly speaking to us, teaching us, leading us. He always speaks through His word, and He never speaks contrary to it. The question is not whether God is speaking but if we are listening.
7) Consecration: Consecration is our response to the activity of God. It is a prayer of commitment. Often in Scripture believers made specific, fresh acts of consecration: Jonah in the whale’s stomach (Jonah 2:1–10); David, following his sin with Bathsheba (Ps 51); Paul, our Lord, and others. In our times of prayer, we are often confronted with the need to make a fresh, new commitment to God.