Anyone who thinks prayer is the same for all pray-ers hasn’t paid much attention to those pictures we frequently see of Muslim men–sometimes hundreds of them at a time–prone on their prayer rugs and looking very intent and devout. I’m assuming their prayers are of a prescribed nature.
Kind of like Christians who always pray the Lord’s Prayer. And pray quite sincerely, But never a prayer directly from their own hearts.
While sincerity in prayer is desirable, I wonder how many Christians–even among those who pray frequently and faithfully–manage to keep from falling into a routine. One that makes them feel they must cover certain areas each time they pray. And makes them feel they’ve misspent their prayer time if they leave something out.
I’m constantly fighting against that routine, and what makes it especially tough is the “ACTS” way of praying I learned many years ago. ACTS is an acronym:
- A = Adoration (telling God how great we think He is)
- C = Confession (admitting our wrongs and asking His forgiveness)
- T = Thanksgiving (thanking Him for His many good and perfect gifts)
- S = Supplication (asking God’s help for self and others)
Pretty nifty, isn’t it?
One advantage of this approach is that in adoration we praise God for who He is rather than for his blessings. The distinction between adoration and thanksgiving is important.
Confession is a toughie for me. I haven’t robbed any banks or killed anyone, but there are still plenty of lesser things I’m guilty of. If you doubt that, you should see me turn my head the other way at the mall rather than “admire” the posters in the window at Victoria’s Secret.
Sin is anything that displeases God…and creates a needless barrier between Him and us. So my prayers of confession always include a request for God to reveal anything specific I need to repent of (that means “turn away from”).
I love thanksgiving, though. God has so blessed my life that I can’t begin to think of everything I’m thankful for. But there’s always something–or several somethings–that are on my mind at prayer time.
Supplication is where too many Christians–myself included–spend far too much of their time. At the same time, though, the Bible tells us we don’t have because we don’t ask.
I believe God is listening to all pray-ers. Don’t ask me how He keeps us straight or handles multiple simultaneous pray-ers; God is far beyond my ability to explain or understand fully.
I’d like to believe I spend far more time praying for the needs of other people than for myself. A plus, right?
Hmm. Not if I’m patting myself on the back for being unselfish. Better that I should start praying to be more unselfish in listening to others’ needs and trying to be helpful. Some problems are things I can ONLY pray about. But some I might be able to lend a helping hand with if I cared enough.
I hope you can see how useful ACTS is, but also how easily a pray-er c an fall into routine. While the details may change from one day to the next, there are certain things I simply MUST pray about every day without fail. Else I feel my prayer is incomplete.
I’m not offering a solution to that problem, although not praying ACTS in order sometimes puts a new spin on my prayer.
What do you think? Do you pray? Do you purposely or incidentally cover the elements of ACTS? Do you fight routine in praying? How about sharing a comment?
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