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The ACTS Method of Prayer

“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.

C- 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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Grandmama’s Teacups

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“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

I love collecting pretty teacups.  My china cabinet is full of them.  Many of them I’ve found at thrift stores, or have been given to me as gifts (because others know I like teacups!).  They remind me of my grandmothers.  My mother’s mother also loved and collected teacups.  I remember eyeing and fingering her Blue Willow miniature collection as a child, until she would see and then scold me away.  Now it lovingly sits in my cabinet.  Teacups remind me of my father’s mother and grandmother for other reasons.  My great-grandmother Merle hand-painted china as a hobby when she was a young woman.  One project that she passed on to my grandmother was her tea-and-toast set.  It is a set of eight teacups and saucers, each one with a different flower delicately hand-painted as its design.  A tea-and-toast set is special because the saucer is offset, to allow room for little pastries and goodies (the “toast”) as well as the teacup.  My grandmother gave this special set to me as a wedding present, almost 10 years after my grandmother had passed away.  This was, by far, my most special gift, and I treasure it still.  It comes out for very special occasions, such as for William and Kate’s and Harry and Meghan’s weddings, and other small ladies’ gatherings.  You can see one of the teacups in the background of the below picture.

I chose to honor my grandmothers with this page in Proverbs 31.  I am truly thankful for the influence of godly women in my life.  They, along with my parents (and they were the ones who raised my parents!), became a powerful spiritual network for me, helping to guide me and prayerfully support me as I grew into the woman that I am.

I used several Sweet’n Sassy Stamps for this page.  The newly released Teacup Roses is the centerpiece.  I stamped it on cardstock and watercolored the rose with Shimmerz Inklingz–fittingly the color was called “A Rose by Any Other Name”.  I added some Nuvo Crystal Drops to give a dewdrop effect.  I stamped tiny roses in the band around the teacup using a rose stamp from Girl Power, and then painted the rest of the teacup with watercolors and acrylic paints.  I stamped the teacup and scripted sentiment, as well the music texture stamp from Texture Tiles 1, all around the page, and then sponged with Antique Linen Distress Ink to give the page an aged look.  I then added some paper pieces from a vintage hymnal, a doily and splattered the Inklingz around the page.  To top the page off, I stamped the rose again, colored it, and cut it out with my tab punch, then adhered it, along with  a little piece of the doily.  Of course, washi!  Some vintage-looking music-staff washi anchored the page on the top and bottom.  I had a matching bow clip, so I added that.  But something was missing, and I discovered this page wasn’t complete until I added the stamped “grace” from the new Life in Jesus set.  I stamped it directly onyo the torn hymnal page, painted it with the Inklingz, and then affixed it on my page.

To be honest, I put more effort into this page than I often do.  But it was worth it!  The whole time I was remembering my dear grandmamas, and praising God for the love and support they gave me.  This turned out to be one of my all-time favorite pages!  The kind you just look at for a long time after you’re finished with it.  It was truly an act of creative worship for me.

For those of you who still have your grandmothers, thank them for their support and influence in your life.  And for those of you whose grandmothers have passed on, don’t forget to say a prayer of thanks to God for all they added to your lives.

Thanks for stopping by!  I think I’ll go make a cup of tea in one of my pretty teacups…

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Just Breathe

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Do you ever count the breaths you take in a day? Of course not! It would become too tedious.  “The average person takes between 17,280 and 23,040 breaths a day.” (Brown, blog.epa.gov)  When you exercise, you breathe even more than that.  Anyone who has struggled with pneumonia, COPD, or other respiratory issues might be able to appreciate how precious those tens of thousands of breaths truly are.  Because without breath, there is no life.

Job 33:4 says, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life,” (NIV).  It is God’s breath that gives me life.  It all began in the Garden of Eden, when God formed Adam by hand and breathed into him His breath:  “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7)  Without God’s breath, there is no life.

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My son lifeguards during the summer, and, among other training, he needs to maintain his CPR certification.  Why? Those breaths that he might have to supply for someone else not breathing could actually save their life.  He would be providing the much-needed oxygen to their brain.  But breathing can also provide more than that.

My watch periodically notifies me to breathe.  (Any other Apple Watch wearers out there?) Not because I’m NOT breathing.  I’ve set this notification so that I can sometimes stop and JUST breathe.  When I actually pay attention to this notification I stop, and slowly and deeply breathe for one minute.  I pause from my busyness, focus in on my breathing for 60 seconds, and slowly breathe in and out.  This short process relaxes my tense muscles, calms my stress, and truly benefits whatever I’m working on at that moment because I’m better focused.  ACS_0228

 

What I’m starting to add to this process is a “thank-you” with each breath.  Thanking God for the 17,280-23,040 breaths He provides a day for me to live.  Thanking God for the life He’s given me.  Thanking God for the eternal life I have through Jesus.  Breathe… Thank you… Breathe… Thank you…

I encourage you to breathe sometimes.  Well, I encourage you to breathe ALL the time!  But I mean to “just” breathe.  To slow down, breathe deeply, and to thank Him for each breath.  Imagine His breath filling your lungs.  Friends, it is indeed the breath of God which gives you life.

Art talk:  I used three Sweet’n Sassy Stamps for this page:  Life in JesusBitty Minnie Alpha and  Texture Tiles 3 sets for this page.  I “smooshed” Faded Jeans and Broken China Distress Oxide Inks for the bluish background.  Some Documented Faith washi and Illustrated Faith tabs and wordfetti stickers topped the page.

Thanks for stopping by!

Free Indeed!

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36) Version 2

This passage in the book of John is one of the most notable and powerful promises found in the Bible.  We are free indeed!  As we celebrate Independence Day today, and we celebrate the freedom we have in our great country–freedoms that many other countries do not have or enjoy–we remember the price that was paid for this freedom.  Many lives were given for us to be able to experience the freedom we have in the United States.  (For any readers in other countries, the same probably goes for you and the freedoms you have–nothing ever comes without a cost.)
But Jesus was not talking about political, social, or economic freedom.  He was talking about spiritual freedom.  Freedom from the bondage and slavery of sin.  When Adam and Eve chose their own way over God’s way in the Garden of Eden, and thereby rejecting His intimacy, they allowed Sin to take this world captive.  All humanity since has been  slave to sin, because “everyone who sins is a slave to sin…” (v. 34). However, Jesus took on humanity, lived a perfect, sinless life, and then died a perfect death, so we don’t have to continue to be slaves to sin.  He gave His life for our freedom.
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The gift of life is free.  It is a free choice.  We are free from sin and slavery IN and THROUGH Jesus.  We have but to accept it by faith, and allow Him to remove the sin from our daily lives.  He removed the burden of sin from our back.  However, we too often take it back again, and again, and again.  Jesus says we are free from the slavery and bondage of lust, of discontentment, of appetite, of worrying, of anger, and the list goes on.  But sometimes we are too comfortable being a slave.  The Israelites often grumbled after escaping from their slavery in Egypt, and longed to go back to their state of bondage!  That makes no sense to us, but we really are no different.  We might want to be free from our sins, but we don’t really want to give them up.
 
I’m not saying it’s an easy thing to do, to give sin up, to be free.  But it is simple.  Jesus has promised, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” (emphasis mine).  He adds the “indeed” to emphasize how sure of a freedom it is.  He has already made us free–but the reality of the freedom in our lives depends on our daily submission and surrender to Him.  Our freedom actually comes in surrender. It’s a paradox, but it’s a powerful paradox.
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I hope you have a blessed Independence Day, full of family, friends, fireworks, and freedom!  But brothers and sisters, don’t choose to go back into your bondage to sin.  Accept your freedom, and be free–INDEED!
(I created these two pages with a Sweet’n Sassy Stamps set called Free Indeed and Distress Oxide Inks. )
(I originally posted a version of this on the Creative Worship Blog on 6/2/6/18)