Among Christians new and mature, the most consistent question that arises is how do I pray? The answer, of course, is that you just pray. Unsatisfying to a modernist, intellectually based culture but true. What the questioner is saying in the undertones is not how do I pray, but rather, what words do I use, how do I say them, and how do I maximize ROI? Crass perhaps, but we shouldn’t expect those new to praying to have adjusted their perspective upward yet.
To this end I want to begin a series that reiterates one of the most familiar structures used for guiding prayer, A.C.T.S. This prayer template popularized (if not created) by Willow Creek Community Church Senior Pastor Bill Hybels is not meant to be prescriptive. The mature Christian who is comfortable in the presence of God will develop a personal approach to the throne and the ensuing dialog. The new or inexperienced prayer, on the other hand, benefits greatly from a way to organize their steps forward. A.C.T.S is but one of those organizational tools.
The acronym ACTS represents the words Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. When a prayer is mindful of these words, the throne comes into the view of one who is appropriately humble. Before making requests of the King, one recognizes His glory, confesses their shortcomings, gives thanks for who He is and what He has done, and only then places their requests before Him. This the opposite of our human tendencies on our best days, and stands as a contrast to our self-centered persons on the others.
We’ll examine each of these steps in detail but don’t wait to begin your life of prayer. God honors what is brought to Him with right hearts, regardless of form. Pray.
Grace and peace to you.