Most people have heard or seen the “ACTS” model of prayer – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (requests). It’s a handy tool, and I’m sure there are others just like it that help us frame our prayers and focus on God.

Yet as I think about prayer and the elements of our various models of prayer, I find that adoration or worship are not found only at one point of our prayers but are woven into each and every aspect of true prayer. A biblically driven definition of prayer would have to include that it is an admittance of need and an acknowledgement of God as the only one who can meet that need. Related to that, the traditional posture of prayer is on our knees, and it is the biblical word for “worship” that can rightly be translated “bow down.” Prayer always humbles us and always exalts God for all that He is, not simply when we use the phrase, “God, you are….”

For instance, when I confess my sin to God in prayer, I am recognizing my need for forgiveness and restoration, and I am worshipping God as holy, just, righteous, forgiving, and merciful. I am praising Him for the work of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension.

When I offer thanks to God, I am recognizing that the blessings in my life were not provided by me, and I am worshipping God as the provider and giver of all good things, as the author and finisher of my salvation, as my refuge and strength. Any expression of thanks, to God or others, exalts the one whom we thank, pointing out what is praiseworthy in them or what they have done, and the same is true in prayers of thanksgiving.

Offering requests to God is worship as well. I have many needs and desires that, in and of myself, I cannot meet. For instance, when my daughter is sick and I desire her to be well, my confidence is not in myself, or even in doctors or medicine, but in God’s strength and mercy towards my child and his wisdom to use any means he chooses to heal my child. My confidence is also in God’s wisdom, sovereignty, and love if he chooses to not heal my child. When I pray for God’s healing and submit to his sovereignty, I remind myself of who God is and worship him.

In all of this, what convicts my heart is that when I choose not to pray, I am withholding worship from God. To neglect prayer is to see myself as sufficient for a task apart from God. It is to see my sanctification and growth in Christ as a work of my flesh rather than a submitting to the Spirit. It is to minimize God’s holiness in light of my sin. It is to pat myself on the back as the provider of good things for myself and my family. It is to trust in myself rather than God. Failure to pray and thereby worship God leads to self-worship; prayerlessness will lead to pride. But prayers of faith exalt God for who he is and remind us of who we are. May we worship without ceasing.