A perfect model for personal prayer or small group devotions and bible study is found in what is commonly known [in most of the Anglican Communion] as the A.C.T.S. Many of us who attended Sunday school and Confirmation classes were introduced to this formula. As prayer continues to be a necessity for deeper relations with our triune God, it is important to know what we are doing, why we do it and to whom. We therefore will look at what is meant by the A.C.T.S.
A - ADORATION
Adoration [noun] comes from the verb ‘adore’ and the Oxford dictionary gives us a technical definition ad-, + Latin orare = pray. The Handy Dictionary of the Bible says that adoration is “homage paid to one held in high esteem, or worship”. Easton’s Dictionary states “to worship; to express reverence and homage”. Prayer then begins with adoration or worship of God acknowledging that HE is creator of all things. Scriptures that are helpful are Genesis 24:52; Exodus 4:31; Psalm 29:2; Psalm 95:6; Luke 2:14 and Matthew 2:11. If you follow the services in the liturgical churches you will find that the prayers begin with adoration and worship. Next time you attend the evensong, pay attention to the scriptures used. I can still remember Psalm 95 as an integral part of the service.
C - CONFESSION
Confession [noun] from the verb ‘confess’ and is described by the Oxford dictionary to “state openly that you have done something wrong or have a weakness”. On the other side, of course, to confess is to acknowledge your faith in something and in this instance the existence of and authority of God. It is also defined by Easton’s as an open profession of faith [Luke 12:8] an admission of sins to God [Leviticus 16:21; Ezra 9:5-15; Daniel 9:3-12] and to our neighbour [James 5:16; Matthew 18:15]. Psalm 32:5 Psalm 51 are further examples of confession that we have done wrong, while Romans 14:11 and 13:15 confirm and praise God as our Sovereign.
T – THANKSGIVING
Thanksgiving [noun] is an expression of gratitude, especially to God, so says the Oxford dictionary. A fuller description is found in the Cruden’s Complete Concordance and it states that thanksgiving is “ an acknowledging and confessing with gladness, the benefits and mercies, which God bestows either upon us or others. We are admonished throughout the bible to offer thanks to God for all things. Psalm 95:2 tells us to “….come before Him with thanksgiving…..” and Psalm 100 says, …”enter His gates with thanksgiving…”.
S – SUPPLICATION
Supplication comes from the verb supplicate means to beg humbly; beseech.
As a supplicant you ask God humbly for something. ‘Something’ can be prayer for others, for situations, for nations. Examples of supplication are found in Psalm 6:9; Jeremiah 36:7, 37:20, 42:2,9; Acts 1:14 to name a few. Note that some of the more modern translations of the bible the word “petition” are used.
Following is an activity for bible study and discussion.
1.] Why should you praise God? (Jeremiah 32:17, I John 4:10, Philippians 1:6)
2.] What is the best way that you can show your gratitude toward God. [Philippians 4:6] What do believe that God expects of you? (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
3.] How do you express your adoration to God?
1.] Read Isaiah 59:1-2. What will prevent your fellowship with God?
2.] Psalm 51 was David's prayer after he had sinned. What did David decide that God wanted of Him? (Psalm 51:6,16-17)
3.] Read Psalm 32:1-7. What were David's thoughts about confession and what did he think about not confessing his sin? [Verses 3 & 4]
1.] How often should you give thanks? [Hebrews 13:15] and for what should we praise Him? [Ephesians 5:20]
2.] How do you give thanks when you pray?
3.] How do you give thanks as you go about your daily life?
1.] Intercession - example of intercession is provided in Colossians 1:3. How did Paul pray for the Colossian Christians?
2.] Petition - why should you expect God to answer your prayers? [Matthew 7:9-11, Romans 8:32]
3.] According to Psalm 84:11-12, what has God promised to do? What part does belief have in our prayers? [Mark 11:24, James 1:6-7] We are told that Faith is necessary, what else? [Matthew 6:9-10,
I John 5:14-15]
1.] Start by using the ACTS method of prayer, during your daily time alone with God. Keep a journal of your prayer requests and the answers to those prayers.
2.] In your journal list those situations in when you give praise and thanksgiving to God for answering your prayer.
3.] Intercede for your family and friends.
Remember that our prayer consists of [i] Adoration [worship] the acknowledgement of God as creator; [ii] Confession the admission of sins, yet having faith that our sins will be forgiven; [iii] Thanksgiving for all that God has done and continues to do and [iv] Supplication where we make our requests to God for ourselves and others.
It is my hope that this will be useful, especially with new Christians and youth groups.