A popular guide for prayer is the acronym “ACTS”: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.
Following this guideline helps to move us keep from using prayer as an opportunity to give God a list of what we would like Him to do. By including the different facets of prayer, we can experience prayer as a conversation with God that helps us develop a healthier, more intimate relationship with Him.
Spending time in adoration and praise helps us focus on who God is – a loving Father who delights in us and enjoys giving us good and perfect gifts. He is understanding, forgiving, and merciful even when we come with the same sins again and again. He is just and righteous. He is all powerful, mighty, majestic. His glory is beyond our understanding, and we need to spend time adoring and praising Him for all the aspects of his character. I often ask God to open my eyes to His glory. When He does that we become overwhelmed with praise.
ACTS reminds us that while we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we still deal with our old sinful natures and need to come to Him in true repentance and confession. It is important to ask the Spirit to search our hearts to reveal to us ways we have displeased our Father. Then we can name those sins, confess them to God and turn our back on them as we embrace the grace, forgiveness, and freedom from condemnation that God longs to give us.
In addition to adoring and confessing, ACTS reminds us to consider all God has done for us. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. And He does! Daily He pours out grace upon grace, but we all get so used to His providential care we start to take it for granted. But when we make thanksgiving is an integral part of our prayer time, we stop to consider how great is His love and care for us and we are moved to heartfelt, overwhelming thanksgiving.
Supplication or asking God for what we need is also key to a healthy prayer life. Scripture reminds us we don’t have because we don’t ask. God longs for us to come to Him with our needs. He longs to give us good and perfect gifts so let’s talk to Him about our big and small needs. And let’s ask believing He will hear, and He will answer in just the right way at just the right time.
In addition to these four important parts of prayer, I would like to suggest that it is important to add a second “S” to the ACTSS acronym.
That second “S” stands for SURRENDER.
After coming in true repentance and confession and spending time praising, thanking, and asking, we need to humbly submit. Surrendering ourselves in complete submission to God’s will allows us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps when He prayed, “may your will be done,” in Matthew 26:42. Even though we don’t always understand God’s will or His timing, there is no better place to be than resting in total surrender and submission in His loving embrace.
One of the things I ask for every morning is for the Spirit to give me “acceptance with joy.” I don’t want to begrudgingly surrender to God’s will for me for that day, but I want to do so in complete faith and trust with a joyful heart because I know His will is trustworthy and there is nowhere else I would rather be that smack dab in the middle of that will! May that be your prayer, too