One acronym to aid prayer is CAST. The letters stand for confession, adoration, supplication and thanksgiving. Some will mix them and use ACTS, but it seems logical to put confession first because the Holy Spirit and the Word of God continually point out sin that need to be forgiven and cleansed.
Keeping short accounts with God is vital. The Bible tells the importance of acknowledging sin before Him, but also the relationship between confessing sin and prayer . . .
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5–10)
If I were God and my child came before me with a list of requests, but didn’t mention that he was rebelling against me and doing things I had forbidden, would I grant the child’s requests without first dealing with the problem in our relationship? I don’t think so. Even as a sinner (I’m like that child), praying that way seems wrong, presumptuous, even brazen.
The psalmist understood this also. He said, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” (Psalm 66:18)
While needing to obey God applies my spiritual life and relationship with God, it also applies to marriage. Wives are told to honor and respect their husbands, yet husbands are given a strong reason to have the same attitude toward their wives . . .
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)
If any wives are offended by the term “weaker” vessel, it seems to refer to physical strength. That means hubby needs to move the furniture and not expect his wife should take care of things that she is not physically able to do. I’ve often said that I don’t mind being the weaker vessel as I watch my husband lift heavy boxes and open stuck jar tops.
The more significant truth in this verse is that disobedience to God’s commands interferes with our prayer life. God is more concerned that my heart is right before Him than giving me what I ask for. He says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) and Jesus repeated it by telling the disciples, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
The only way to have a heart that does not condemn me is to confess sin as it happens and as I become aware of it. Like 1 John 1:9 says, God is faithful and just to not only forgive my sin, but to cleanse me from unrighteousness. Having a clean heart is a vital part of a strong prayer life . . .
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:21–22)
I cannot pray very well with a heart that condemns me before I even start. That is why I like CAST, but I also like it because 1 Peter 5:7 tells me to “CAST all my anxieties on Him, because He cares for me.” My main anxiety is that my relationship with God is kept open, transparent, and total honest. For that, confession takes priority.