I suspect this admission was not unique to the one who shared it with me. So often our prayers become singularly focused on interceding for our selves, our families and friends, our church and even for the needs of the world. Intercessory prayer is a wonderful gift. But as we seek to experience a more balanced prayer life I have found the ACTS pattern of prayer to be helpful.
Begin your prayer time with ADORATION. Adoration sets the tone for what follows. It focuses our hearts and minds and connects us to the One to whom we are praying; it brings honor to Him. Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name. (Matthew 6:9) Such an approach draws us into the very throne room of God; to the One who is worthy or our praise and adoration. Before His presence we are reminded the One we all out to is able!
In a work entitled simply "Prayer", Ole Hallesby writes: In praise my soul ascends to self-forgetting adoration, seeing and praising only the majesty and power of God, His grace and redemption.
If you find it challenging to focus on praise and adoration let me suggest you read portions of the Psalms and rehearse back to God the words of worship expressed by the Psalmist. List the attributes or characteristics of God and express your adoration for who He is. Or think of the names of God and use those names as expressions of praise. Worship music is another means to focus our thoughts on God. Work at it; be creative.
The 'C' is for CONFESSION. We talked about this aspect of prayer in our current series in 1 John. I would encourage you to listen again to that teaching (A Study in 1 John Part 3 - January 31, 2016 -- you can access using the 'message' tab.) Though often neglected, confession is a rich part of our experience in prayer that leads to a renewed sense of the joy and wonder of knowing we are forgiven! If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Here I would caution you to avoid the' forgive my many sins' approach to confession. Name your sin, own up to it honestly before God and claim the cleansing, healing grace of Christ, purchased for us by His shed blood. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Ephesians 1:7)
The 'T' is for THANKSGIVING. The Psalmist writes: I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1) As you pray, choose to give thanks! An approach that has helped me in this area is to think in terms of giving thanks for answered prayer, spiritual blessings, relational blessings and material blessings. Almost everything n our lives falls into one of these four categories.
When we have offered our praise and adoration to God, when we have engaged God in confession and expressed our thanksgiving to Him we are then in a place where we can seek His face in SUPPLICATION. Philippians 4:6 says, let your requests be made know. Pray about anything and everything! I find it helpful to think in terms of personal requests, family and friends and the church. Keep a prayer journal or use any number of tools that might encourage you as you intercede before God.
The ACTS pattern of prayer might become for you a means of experiencing a more balanced and dynamic prayer life. I pray that you will use it, experiment with it and refine it that it becomes a rich part of your time with the Lord.