The ACTS of Prayer

It’s another new year, and many of us are resolved to pray– pray more, pray better, pray longer, etc. That’s a good resolution, but without a plan, it can fizzle out as the year goes on. It’s not that we stop praying altogether; it’s just that we end up praying the same old way or about the same old things, and our pursuit of prayer becomes another routine.

This year, I want to present several “How-to’s” of prayer– at least one every month– to keep things fresh. Today is ACTS. ACTS is an acronym that stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. I learned this method way back in college, and our Wednesday morning prayer team at church still uses it each week.

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Start by coming to God in worship and ADORATION:
List some of the Names of God–Father, Creator, El Shaddai, LORD, King of Kings, etc., OR
List the attributes of God–Merciful, Mighty, Humble, Everlasting…
Pray one of the Psalms…
Sing or recite the words of a worship hymn or praise chorus…
Think of creative ways to spend some time expressing God’s Worth and Majesty.

This may be difficult the first time; it may feel awkward at other times. Don’t be discouraged. God inhabits the praise of His People, whenever, wherever, and however we make the effort!

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Second, spend some time in CONFESSION:
Ask God to examine your heart to see if there is any wickedness that has gone unacknowledged..(Psalm 139:23-24)
Confess specific sins as you think of them…
Confess your need for God’s forgiveness and His Guidance..
Resolve to take action– either action to seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, or action to change course in the future, or action to let go of past resentment..

Sometimes, you may need to stop and take the action NOW before you continue in prayer. Sometimes, you may need to let go of your own lingering guilt and shame over past actions for which you have already confessed. Remember, God removes our Sin as far as the East is from the West, (Psalm 103:12) and He will remember it no more– so we must trust in His forgiveness and move forward; not stay stuck in the past!

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Next, THANK God–for His provision, and for His Mercy:
Thank God for His daily provision of life, health, strength, and unfailing Love!
Thank Him for the people in your life– those who encourage as well as those who challenge you!
Thank God for His Mercies that are new every morning (Lamentations 2:22-23)
Thank Him for His forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:9)
Thank Him for His eternal presence (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6)

Don’t confuse this with step one–ADORATION is about Who God IS. Thanksgiving is about What God has Done for YOU. It is easy to recite a verse about what God has done for others– take time to make it personal, especially in light of whatever you have just confessed!

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Last, bring your petitions and requests in SUPPLICATION to the Father:
Bring your heart-cry for lost friends and relatives…
Ask for God to work in situations that have you frustrated..
Plead for Justice and Righteousness to be done in the world around you..

Pray for leaders, elected officials, and church leaders..(1 Timothy 2:1-4)
Ask for the strength to resist temptation, stand firm, and run the race that is set before you.. (1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Corinthians 16:13, 1 Corinthians 9:24, more..)

It isn’t that this is the least important step, but it works better when it follows the other three steps. NOW you are in the right frame of mind to present requests. They can be seen in their proper perspective. Instead of a giant wish list of things you hope God might do for you, you can present requests that you KNOW God already knows about, cares about, and for which He already has a plan! You can come in confidence, knowing that you have peace with God because He has forgiven your sins and restored your relationship as His son or daughter– nothing stands in the way! And you have just rehearsed (and said Thank You!) for all the ways God has been faithfully working in your life!

Does this sound like a lot of time and energy? It is. But it doesn’t have to be for every prayer you pray. This is for special time set aside for deep prayer. OR, you can break it up throughout the day: Wake up with praise and adoration (it will make an immediate difference!), spend some time at the end of the work day confessing (when it’s still fresh!), and end the day with thanksgiving and supplication (what a way to find peaceful rest– give all your cares over to God who has done so much for you (1 Peter 5:7)!

However you choose to do it– consider trying the ACTS method this week. Do it during your quiet time, or try it with a group. Develop a habit of coming to prayer in this order.

Keep watching this space for more ideas to stimulate your prayer life. Let’s pursue prayer together in 2023!

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