Prayer and confidence. Do those words go together for you? I’d like to think someday I’ll be a confident pray-er. I’m definitely more confident now than I was when I first became a Christian, but I don’t know if I’ll ever call myself confident. I actually think it’s a mark of humility to feel a bit insecure when praying, so I’m not overly concerned about it. However, I don’t want to pray in a way that’s offensive or whacky. I actually think that’s what kept me from using the ACTS Prayer Model in the past. Like, do we really need an acronym to talk to the Lord?
It wasn’t until about six months ago that I started using this method in my own prayer life, and the only reason I started was because my church recommended it. If I can be honest, I was hesitant, but after doing a little more studying and putting this method into practice I’ve really come to enjoy it.
I’m about to explain each of the four parts of the ACTS Prayer Method. I’ll also share the various ways I use the method in my own prayer life. If you end up wanting to use it too I have a free downloadable guide and fillable PDF that I’d love for you to have. Ok, let’s jump into the ACTS Prayer Model and see if it’s for you.
What is the ACTS Prayer Model and why should I use it?
ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. If some of those words are confusing it’s ok. I’ll explain them in just a second. Here’s the main reason why I’ve come to enjoy using this model for prayer. In the Bible, people frequently praise God for who he is and what he’s done. I, on the other hand, frequently feel weird doing that.
My prayers always start like this, “God, thank you for today.” I know that because my kids have heard it so many times they start their own prayers in the same way. I can thank God and ask him for stuff all day long, but stopping to tell him he’s awesome… well that just sounds weird coming out of my mouth. Should it? No. But that doesn’t change the fact that it does, and because it does I tend to avoid it.
Insert ACTS. It can’t be avoided. The first thing you do is adore the Lord. Basically, what I’m trying to say is the reason I enjoy this method is because it gets me out of my comfort zone.
Adoration means to show honor or respect. It’s an act of worship and love. If you want to know what that sounds like in prayer just read the Psalms. Those guys did it all the time!
Practically speaking this is what it sounds like for me. I just fill in this basic sentence. God, you are ________. There’s really no end to the words that can fill in that blank. God, you’re good, gracious, loving, generous, just, holy, perfect, huge. You’re beyond what I can even imagine!
Not sure you can do this yet? It felt weird for me too, at first, so I would play a worship song to start off my prayer time. I found that I could adore the Lord in my heart and with song, and doing that gave me words to say when I started to adore the Lord with unsung words.
Sometimes I jump right into asking for things, and I wonder if God isn’t listening to me like, “Girl, you just screamed at your kids. Maybe you should apologize first…”
Confession should be a regular part of the Christian life, but I don’t know if we stop long enough to even take stock of our hearts. Do a quick search for the word confession in the Bible. It’s everywhere, but it’s not always the first we go in prayer. The ACTS Prayer Model reminds me to slow down, consider my heart, and confess my sins before they start to take root.
This is where I breathe a sigh of relief. Thanksgiving – the easy part. Maybe it’s not easy for you, though. When life gives you a truckload of lemons it can be hard to make lemonade. I mean, who needs that much lemonade anyway?
When people are mean. If your spouse dies. When you keep on praying for healing, but it just never comes. Those are times when gratitude can be hard, but those are times when our hearts need to be told the truth. Thanksgiving reminds us that when everything feels wrong there’s still something that’s right. The truth of salvation. The hope of an eternity spent with Jesus. Even if we have nothing else, we have that. And that’s enough.
Supplication is when we ask/beg for something intently and humbly. This is probably what most of us think about when we hear the word prayer. It’s when we ask God for stuff. Supplication is an uncommon word, but I love its definition.
How often are we asking for things intently and humbly? Most of the time my prayers are more like commands. “God, save my kids. Jesus, help me.” Great things to ask for, but the way I say them makes God out to be my Jeanie-in-a-bottle. For the love, Sarah, you’re speaking to the God of the universe. The creator of the world!
Maybe ask instead of demand.
On top of that, I can honestly say I don’t often beg intently. I’ll ask for things here and there, but I don’t often beg. I like the ACTS prayer model because when I get to supplication it reminds me of the Gentile woman in Matthew 15:21-28.
How to use the ACTS Prayer Model
Now that you know what the ACTS Prayer Model is, let’s chat about some different ways to use it.
1. Pray all 4 parts of the ACTS Prayer Model in one sitting.
This is probably the most obvious. You can print off my ACTS Prayer model guide and work through each of the four elements in order until you get comfortable praying in this fashion. It’s a great way of slowing down and keeping yourself from just asking God for things.
2. Pray a single element from the ACTS Prayer Model
I think all four elements should be present in your prayer life, but they don’t necessarily need to show up altogether every time you pray. Say you’re walking down the street and you see a really cool tree. You could pray adoration by saying, “Wow, God! That tree is incredible! Good job!”
If you feel conviction over the way you treated your family member, you can immediately stop and ask God for forgiveness. If you find out you got the job, you can look to heaven and just say, “Thank you.” And if you find yourself in a sticky situation, don’t worry. All you have to say is “Jesus, help me.”
Do you HAVE to pray using the ACTS prayer model?
Nope. Do I think you should? Yeah, I do. I think each individual element allows us to connect with the Lord in a way that’s necessary and good for our souls. And I think when we pray all four elements together it causes us to slow down and rest in Christ alone. It’s not the only way to pray, but it is a great way to pray.
Bonus: It’s a great process to teach to your kids. I came across this article a few months ago and love how simple Chad Harrington makes it to teach this model to children as young as 18 months. I’ve been using his guide with our kids (8 + 11) and all I can say is… we love it!
Because there’s a better way,
question: do you plan to start praying using the acts prayer model? why? do you have another to-go prayer strategy? let us know in a comment!
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