I must confess that I feel inadequate to answer that question. I always feel like I should pray more. With the pressures of work and raising children along with the other factors that make life busy, my prayer life suffers.
In spite of my deficiencies in the discipline of prayer, I have learned something of value.
In the midst of the squeeze of life and my lack of focus, one simple tool has helped my prayer life more than any book or sermon on prayer. This tool is an acrostic of the word “acts” (ACTS).
The components of a healthy, balanced pattern of prayer are found in this simple word. Each letter of the word “ACTS” gives us an essential ingredient in understanding prayer.
The letter “A” of the word ACTS stands for adoring. When we pray, regardless of our posture or location at the time of prayer, we should take time to thank God for who He is. Jesus taught us to do this in the Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus prayed, “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” Take a moment to adore God as you begin your prayer.
As a father, I am a little disappointed when I come home from work and open the door to endless requests from my children. Kids will be kids. I know that.
However, it is nice when I am greeted and welcomed with a “Hi Daddy!” or just “Daddy!” It is important that we take a moment to greet God in our prayers before we dive into our endless grocery list of requests.
The letter “C” of the word ACTS stands for confessing.
The older I get, the more I understand how imperfect I am. When I compare myself to others, I am not that special. I am not a great man.
When I compare myself to God, I have no hope except through the grace of Jesus Christ. Our failures that go on in our lives — without confession — build walls between God and us. They also build walls between us and our family and other significant people.
We have to keep moving those failures out of the way through confession.
Jesus taught us to confess our sins. Jesus prayed, “Forgive us when we sin as we forgive those who sin against us.”
Jesus had never sinned personally. However, Jesus taught us that powerful prayer comes from the heart of a humble individual who is willing to admit his mistakes.
The letter “T” of the word ACTS stands for thanking.
A grateful heart is a happy heart. Nothing is more shameful than someone who lives life with a sense of entitlement. We cannot be so naïve to think that any good that we have received in life is only because of our own efforts.
I am reminded of the story of the rancher inspecting the fence around his property. The rancher saw a strange sight. At the very top of one of the fence posts stood a turtle. Before putting the turtle back down on the ground, the rancher said with a chuckle, “I know one thing for certain. You didn’t get to the top of that post by yourself.”
Our gratitude acknowledges that we understand this important principle.
The letter “S” of the word ACTS stands for supplicating.
Supplication is an older term that simply means to ask for what you need. Jesus taught us to do this by praying, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus also reminded us that “we have not because we ask not.”
Asking God to supply our needs, whether they be health or financial, is essential. We should also be praying on behalf of others who need our prayers.
“ACTS” — I hope this simple word helps your practice of prayer as much as it has mine. It is hard to keep a balanced prayer life.
In this busy world it is difficult to find time to pray. However, prayer may be the most important thing that we ever do.
— Chris Crain, Pastor, North Valley Church, Margaret