“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17
Prayer is essential in the life of a Christian, especially in the times we are living. 2020 has been an incredibly tough year for everyone, me included. With the pandemic, political division, racial protests, and economic troubles, we all need prayer to sustain us. To make my matters worse, I’ve had various health issues that required surgeries and extensive recovery this year. If it weren’t for the power of prayer, and the peace that comes from an active prayer life, I’d have lost my mind!
But how do we pray? What’s the best method?
There are no right answers to those questions, because prayer is personal and dynamic. God’s Spirit guides us in our prayers. But I have found a few ways to pray that have helped to keep my prayers purposeful, focused, and powerful. Today I’ll share the first of several methods–the ACTS method.
I’m not sure where I first learned about it, but I’ve been using ACTS for many years. I usually write my prayers in a journal. This helps to keep me from distraction, and it provides a way to go back and look at how faithful God has been in answering my prayers. I go through four phases of prayer, each one represented by the letters in the acronym “ACTS”.
A – Adoration
“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” (Psalm 145:3)
“A” stands for adoration. I begin by adoring God and praising His character. I focus on WHO He is. This is about His attributes. For example, I offer praises to God for His wisdom, His grace, His faithfulness, His compassion, etc. Starting with praise helps to bring me into a proper mindset, one that isn’t focused on me and my wants or needs, but more on God. It leads me into a reverent attitude. It also guides me to the next phase–confession.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
When I start my prayers focused on Him, I am then humbled by His greatness and character of holiness. I am able to see my shortcomings and failures in relationship to His perfection. I realize how sinful I truly am, in need of His saving power in my life. I’m better able to reflect and recall what I need to confess to Him.
Here I ask for forgiveness for things like my irritability, my neglect of important things, my disrespect and dishonesty. I pray over specific sins, such as a negative attitude, unsupportive things I’ve said to my husband, and inconsistencies in my life. Once I’ve done this, I’m brought to a place of thankfulness for His forgiveness.
T – Thankfulness
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
Praying with a grateful attitude helps me to be content with what God has provided and to focus less on my troubles and concerns. This is different from adoration and praise. Now I’m focusing on WHAT God has done in my life, specific things that God has provided or accomplished, such as protection in a car accident, my family and home, and my job. I thank God for His healing power after my surgeries, and for the supportive friends He’s blessed me with. Or a more-than-expected tax return. I even thank God for the difficulties that help to grow me. Thankfulness then properly leads me to supplication, the final step in this method.
S – Supplication
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” (Phil. 4:6)
Now that I’ve gone through the first three steps of adoring God’s character, confessing my sins, and thanking Him for His blessings, I’m ready to make my requests. Supplication means asking God to supply my needs and the needs of others. Here is where I intercede for others. Because I’ve gone through the others steps first, I’m in a better mindset to ask according to God’s will, not mine. I pray for my husband, my children, their safety, for neighbors, and my students. I ask for specific things regarding an upcoming event, or for my sons’ relationships. This week I’ve been praying especially for our nation and its troubles with Covid, politics, and injustices. Rather than seeing God as a vending machine who will give me what I ask for, I can now effectively pray for those things the Spirit puts upon my heart.
Praying the ACTS method is one of many ways to pray, but it is my favorite method. Its simple format is easy to remember and even easier to follow. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
Check out my YouTube process video where I made a page in my Bible about this method.
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