I have found that one of the most difficult disciplines of the Christian walk is prayer. But prayer is one of the most important disciplines. In fact, prayer is to be an ongoing activity; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing”—the communication channel between us and God should never be closed. We are instructed on how to pray (Matt. 6:9-13), when to pray (Psalm 55:17), where to pray (Matt. 6:6), and for whom to pray (James 5:16), and yet we still find it such a chore.
I believe our difficulty lies not so much in our lack of devotion, but in our lack of organization. We find prayer daunting because we have no structure on which to build our thoughts. Too often our time with God becomes a monologue of disorganized thoughts haphazardly assembled into a jigsaw puzzle of pieces that don’t fit neatly. So we become frustrated and discouraged and conclude that prayer just isn’t worth the trouble.
One popular aid that provides a basic outline for prayer is the A.C.T.S. acrostic (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).
Adoration. Psalm 96 is a song dedicated to praising God. Verse 4 states, “the Lord is great and greatly to be praised,” and verse 7 commands us to “give to the Lord the glory due His name.” The Lord deserves our adoration and praise because He alone is worthy. Our prayer session will begin with the right priority when we start by adoring Him.
Confession. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins . . .” We find a clear example of this in Psalm 32:5 where David, expressing the joy in forgiveness, tells of how he confessed his sin and the Lord forgave him. Sin begins to pull us away from the Lord and hinders our fellowship with Him; confession removes that hindrance and restores our relationship.
Thanksgiving. We have so much for which to be thankful. If we were to sit down and make a list we could fill many notebooks of blessings God has bestowed on us. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to give thanks in everything. That means not just blessings but aso those things that seem to be cursings. We know that “all things work together for good” so whether they seem good or bad we should be thankful because we are constantly being molded into the image of Christ.
Supplication. Lastly, we should make our request known to God. Philippians 4:6 instructs us “by prayer and supplication, [here it is again] with thanksgiving, let [our] requests be made known to God.” God desires to hear our petitions and delights in giving us the desires of our heart as long as they are in accordance with the desires of His heart.
I hope the A.C.T.S. outline will aid you in your prayer time and make your time spent with God less a burden and more a blessing.
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