C. M. Mellor was ministerial secretary of the Northern California Conference when he wrote this article.

Prayer in the church worship service is the respect ful and receptive opening of the heart to God with others of like attitudes and expectations. It is a togetherness in approaching God for His presence and mercies. How inspiring is the promise: "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: He also will hear their cry, and will save them" (Ps.145: 18, 19).

Just how does one prepare a pastoral prayer? There is a natural sequence to be followed in this art. This is true both when we are in private communion with our Lord and when we are praying before a congregation in the setting of a worship service. Let us together consider six aspects of an effective prayer.

1. Adoration and reverence. All prayer begins with adoration and a reverence for God and His holy name.

To adore God is to love Him. This is the foundation of all true prayer. We address our prayers to God through the name of Jesus Christ.

In the Scriptures there are many illustrations of adoration. When the disciples said to Jesus. "Lord, teach us to pray." He taught them to say, "Our Father which art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name" (Luke 11:1,2). When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, they sang, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men" (ch. 2:14). In the prayer of Isaiah, preceding his vision of the glory of God, he exclaimed, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts" (Isa. 6:3).

Is it not significant that the remnant church which heralds the "everlasting gospel," is admonished. "Fear God, and give glory to Him" (Rev. 14:7)? This text in Phillips' translation reads: "Reverence God, and give glory to him.'"* "Prayer is the most holy exercise of the soul. It should be sincere, humble, and earnest- the desires of a renewed heart breathed in the presence of a holy God. When the suppliant feels that he is in the divine presence, self will be forgotten. He will have no desire to display human talent; he will not seek to please the ear of men, but to obtain the blessing which the soul craves." -Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 201.

One of the great problems in most Seventh-day Adventist churches is lack of reverence. Only as worshipers sense that they are in God's presence and that God is in the house of worship through the Holy Spirit can real prayer be experienced and real reverence felt.

To pray to God is to rejoice in Him; to turn our thoughts from self to God. Nothing we possess is as important as knowing who God is and that we possess Him. It is at this point that real, effective prayer begins!

2. Praise and thanksgiving. There is much in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy about joy and thanksgiving in prayer. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20). "We need to praise God more'for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.' Ps. 107:8. Our devotional exercises should not consist wholly in asking and receiving. Let us not be always thinking of our wants, and never of the benefits we receive. We do not pray any too much, but we are too sparing of giving thanks. We are the constant recipients of God's mercies, and yet how little gratitude we express, how little we praise Him for what He has done for us." -Steps to Christ, pp. 102, 103.

In the prayer of adoration and reverence, we love God for Himself and what He is; in the prayer of thanksgiving and praise, we thank God for what He has done. It is to say, "God, I thank thee for...." As we thank God for His many blessing, our attention is directed away from ourselves and upward to Him. "No tongue can express, no finite mind can conceive, the blessing that results from appreciating the goodness and love of God." -The Ministry of Healing, p. 253.

3. The prayer of confession. The two types of prayer previously mentioned adoration and thanksgiving are significant, for they direct us toward God. In the effective pastoral prayer, there is also a place for the expression of the worshiper's needs. One of the basic problems of any congregation is the forgiveness of sin. It is sin that separates man from God.

The key to a reconciliation with God is to say, "Lord, we are sorry." "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). "True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins." -Steps to Christ, p. 38. Not only is it important to confess the sins that come to our minds; but we must also confess the underlying motives that lie deep in the heart. It was the psalmist who cried, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults" (Ps. 19:12).

How solemn are the words "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, 'Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, 'Where is their God?' " (Joel 2:17).

It is painful to recognize our spiritual failures, yet how wonderful to know God's forgiveness! When we pray the prayer of confession, it is not to condernn the church but to point to the mercies of a loving Father.

4. Intercession in prayer. In the prayer of intercession we are praying, not for ourselves, but for others. True Christians who deeply love others cannot but pray for them. This is one of the great privileges in talking to God in behalf of a congregation.

There are persons we would remember in our private communion with God who would not be remembered in the pastoral prayer. Those for whom intercession is made should be the concern of the entire congregation. At this point in the pastoral prayer, mention the leaders, evangelists, teachers, colporteurs, the sick, and the discouraged. Little do we understand the heavy burdens and bewildering perplexities upon the hearts of the worshipers. To mention such in a general way might be the means of giving someone the lift he or she needs. "It is when we come into difficult places that He reveals His power and wisdom in answer to humble prayer." -The Ministry of Healing, p. 199

5. Petition in prayer. Generally when people pray it is because they want something. The prayer of petition is for ourselves, our needs and desires. Jesus, when teaching His disciples how to pray, said, "Give us this day our daily bread." In asking for things, caution must be expressed, for in praying thus, our wills are often placed before the will of God. We must examine our motives to make sure they are righteous and unselfish.

In our private communion with God our prayers should be simple as we ask for our temporal and spiritual needs. Although He knows these needs, He wants us to ask for them.

Our petitions may not always be answered in the way we would wish, but we can learn lessons from God's refusals and pray for the wisdom and strength that we need to reach His standards.

6. Committing ourselves to God. The proper climax of prayer is for us to commit and dedicate ourselves to the service and keeping of God. Failure to align our lives to the revealed will of God would debase prayer to empty and high-sounding words. "Commit thy way unto the Lord trust also in Him; and he shall bring it too pass" (Ps. 37:5).

Effective prayer comes from total dedication. Thus it seems fitting to commit ourselves to God near the conclusion of the pastoral prayer. "There are conditions to the fulfillment of God's promises, and prayer can never take the place of duty. 'If ye love Me.' Christ says, 'Keep My commandments.'. . . . Those who bring their petitions to God, claiming His promise while they do not comply with the conditions, insult Jehovah." -Christ's Object Lessons, p. 143.

In leading a congregation in the pastoral prayer, development can be experienced by using the six aspects of prayer. The six steps are:

Adoration and worship: "Our Father which art in heaven. We love Thee with all our hearts.. ."

Thanksgiving and praise: "Thank You, God, for the gift to mankind in the form of Jesus, Thy Son, for the revelation of Thy will in the Holy Scriptures. . . ."

Confession: "We're sorry we are lukewarm when we should be fervent, for failing to apply to ourselves the standards of conduct we demand of others. .."

Intercession: "Help him who is preaching these eternal truths to those who do not know Thee, and direct those who are manning difficult, lonely stations ..."

Petition: "If it be Thy will, give us the means to build our new school, for food and clothing so our Dorcas Society can help the needy...."

Commitment: "Take us and use us in Thy great vineyard to help finish the work so we may be ready to meet the Lord when He comes ..."

C. M. Mellor was the ministerial secretary of the Northern California Conference when he wrote this article.