I am delighted to welcome Peg Arnold as my guest this week explaining a structure for prayer that has added depth to her prayers. Even if you are familiar with the ACTS acronym, you will find it useful as a reminder to help you focus when you pray. Peg and I are both contributing authors to a devotional published by EABooks Publishing in 2020 called Whispers of Grace. Check it out and purchase a copy — you’ll love the variety of stories, devotions, poems, and prayers.
Can you remember the first time you learned how to pray? My earliest memory is at Vacation Bible School. We sat around a miniature table in tiny wooden chairs, folded our hands, bowed our heads and said, “God is Great,” before we ate our graham crackers and drank our Kool Aid. About the same time, my parents taught me the bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep.”
In spite of the simplicity of each of those prayers, they taught me the importance of praise, thanksgiving, and making requests to God. As I grew older, I learned the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer reinforced for me the importance of praise, thanksgiving, and requesting the desires of our hearts; however it added the dimension of praying for the forgiveness of others as well as the forgiveness for my sins.
God hears every word we utter to Him. We can talk to Him as if He is sitting right next to us, or cry out to Him in anguish. He is always there. He hears every word, but sometimes my prayers can be repetitive and self-focused.
In the prayer Jesus taught us, he modeled praise, thanksgiving, forgiveness, and requests. This can intimidate me at times. However, I was taught a way to remember each of these prayer pieces by using the ACTS acronym: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Submission. I know this can sound overwhelming, but let me share a bit how this works. No fancy language is necessary; just pray your heart’s desires.
ADORATION is an act of praise and worship.
Praise is worshipping and demonstrating adoration to God for who He is. Sometimes this is the part of prayer that I miss. Remember the rocks will cry out if we do not praise God. He is all powerful, strong, wise, merciful, good, loving, Creator, mighty, all knowledgeable, and more. Two of my favorite ways to express praise and adoration to God is by reading the Psalms and either singing or listening to music. What are your favorite ways to praise Him?
Psalm 150 is a wonderful praise Psalm: Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! …Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
CONFESSION is asking God for forgiveness of your sins.
And in the same vein, asking Him to help you forgive those who have sinned against you. I love the way Psalm 51 reminds us that He can wash us as clean as snow and restore us when we bring to Him our failures, shame, and weaknesses.
Psalm 51: 10-12: Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation.
THANKSGIVING and gratitude is one of the most natural parts to prayer.
It is important to thank God for His faithfulness and all He has done not only for you personally, but also for those you love.
Research has proven that expressions and acts of gratitude impact one’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being. Some people find it helpful to keep a gratitude journal to reflect on the many blessings God has provided.
SUBMISSION is just a fancy word for submitting or presenting requests and needs to God.
It can be crying out for the desires of your own heart or pleading for the needs of others. It is acting as a bridge connecting a need with God through prayer.
Ezekiel 22:30 refers to this as standing in the gap for another. Both requests for our own selves or others are important. Philippians 4:6a says: Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need.
Try guiding your prayers with this ACTS acronym
- Adoration — Praise Him
- Confession — Ask for forgiveness
- Thanksgiving — Thank Him
- Submission — Requests for yourself and others
This little acronym has enabled my prayers to grow in depth and meaning which has allowed my relationship to grow closer with Christ. Isn’t that a desire of each of our hearts?
Peg Arnold, Speaker/Author, has degrees in teaching and a Masters in counseling. She brings stories to life through her poignant drama/speaking ministry encouraging all to embrace their God-given value. Balancing the roles of wife and mom with counselor and teacher, gives her a unique perspective. Her favorite role now is that of “Nana”. She freely shares the joys and challenges of these life experiences in her writing and speaking. Her latest book Devotions for the Distracted Heart is on Amazon. She would love to hear from you. Reach out or follow her on: Website https://pegarnold.org/ Devotions for the Distracted Heart Blog https://pegarnold.wordpress.com/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pegarnoldwow/