Prayer is as essential to our spiritual well-being as water is to our physical well-being.  Just as we have all felt the effects of going too long with out hydrating, going too long without connecting with God through prayer takes its toll on how we feel spiritually and keeps us from progressing along spiritual journey with Jesus.

Still, too often our prayer times are limited to a quick “shout-out” before a meal, a wish-list of requests, or whatever we can manage to mumble in our heads before our minds wander or we fall asleep.  And while there’s nothing wrong with short, informal prayers, it is a shame for this incredible privilege of approaching our Creator with the desires of our heart, and to be able to, in turn, be more in touch with His plan for us, to go underutilized.

So, based on Jesus’ pattern for prayer as He laid out for us in the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9-13), here’s an easy template we can use to make our prayer time more meaningful and make sure we are getting a healthy amount of opportunity to align with God’s perspective.

All the main aspects of prayer can be remembered with the acronym W.A.T.E.R.

W is for Worship. This is where we take some time to remind ourselves exactly Who we are talking to while letting Him know exactly how much He is worth to us.

A is for Admit/Acknowledge. Perhaps one of the main purposes of prayer is to bring us closer to Him, meaning that if there is anything between us and God, this is the time to lay it out before Him and ask for His forgiveness.

T is for Thanks.  Giving thanks for what God has done in our lives forces us to take inventory of all our blessings.  Take some time to give Him the credit he deserves.

E is for Empty. This is arguably the most-important yet oft-neglected element of our prayers.  This is the step where we empty ourselves of any selfish ambitions.  Prayer is not about bending God’s will to ours, but rather getting on the same page as His.  Tell God that, while we have our own plans, we recognize that His plan is perfect and that we submit to it, whatever it is.

R is for Request.  This is finally time for us to express our needs to our Heavenly Father. He wants us to be honest about how we feel and to humble ourselves enough to ask Him for His help.

As we make prayer a priority in our lives, we will find it a natural and refreshing part of our day.