As a new Christian, I often struggled with praying to God. Oh, I knew He heard me and understood. I knew He loved me. Yet oftentimes, it seemed my prayers were filled with Give me or I want or Bless me or bless her. At times I felt an emptiness about my prayers.
Then I heard about the ACTS way to pray. This has probably been around since before I was born, but when I found this plan, it changed the way I entered prayer. I realized how selfish my prayers had been. Even my thanksgiving was usually about what I considered good for me.
Using this method of prayer helped me recognize the Person to whom I was speaking. I was on royal ground and I needed to recognize Him as King.
This is not the only way to pray, for there is no one right way to pray. Jesus modeled what we call The Lord’s Prayer and what we call the High Priestly Prayer. [Click on the words and you can read the scripture there.] There are many ways to pray, and using different tools helps keep us alert and on our toes. It can make us cognizant of what we are saying when we pray. Even when only God hears, our prayers should not conflict with scripture.
By following the pattern called ACTS, we can become focused and less self-centered as we pray.
- A – adoration. Begin by praising God for Who He is. Consider His attributes, and praise Him for these: holiness, faithfulness, shepherding, compassionate, merciful, Bread of Life, Water of Life, Light of the world. Claim His holiness. Scripture is full of His attributes. Praise Him for them! You can also choose to praise God for these attributes in alphabetical order. You can read about that here.
- C – confession. When I see Who God is, I see myself as I am. Coming to God with adoration will show me where there is sin in my life. I cannot ask Him for anything when there is sin in my life. I need to confess my sin first. I need to acknowledge the sin in my life and receive forgiveness and cleansing. King David gives us a great example of a repentant prayer in Psalm 51.
- T – thanksgiving. Thank God for what He has done. He continues to bless us with gifts we do not deserve: safety, protection, health, financial help, giving wisdom, answering prayer. (I Thes. 5:18) Eph 5:20
- S – supplication. This is asking. It is coming to God for my needs and my wants as well as the needs of others. Pray His Word back to Him. Col. 3:16 When we have spent time in His Word, we will experience the Word in our heart and our spirit will better know how to pray. As His Word penetrates us, we will want what He wants. This is why Scripture tells us that we can ask what we will, and it will be done. This only happens when we abide in Him. This is why it is so important to take time to read the Word. Reading His Word enables us to learn to know our Father’s heart. When we know His heart, we will want to ask for what He wants.
After focusing on this method for several weeks, I discovered that when I began to pray, I moved from one letter to the other without difficulty. Now it comes naturally to me to begin with adoration and thanksgiving, then to confession. Lastly, when I have worshipped and received forgiveness, my heart is truly ready to pray for others as well as for myself.