The ACTS of Christian Prayer

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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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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When Routine Becomes Too Routine

BreakfastPrep

Routine has a certain element of comfort. Even for a retired individual like myself.

But sometimes it gets to be too much.

I don’t mind getting up at 6:30 on weekdays to fix breakfast for my wife. It’s one way to show my gratitude for the many things she does for me. And if I’m extra tired, she encourages me to stay in bed. She’ll settle for instant oatmeal on those rare occasions.

All I have to do is follow a rather harmless series of steps. (Read as “routine.”) Put my breakfast pills at my place at the counter. Put my hearing aids in. Plug the egg poacher in. Get the toaster out and plug it in. Spray the egg container part of the poacher and the ramekin dish I use for my egg. Put sausage crumbles and liquid egg whites in my dish. Break an egg and put it in the poacher’s container. Put just the right amount of water in the poacher. Get out plates and juice  and milk glasses. Get out bread for toast and an English muffin.

Etc.

Am I boring you yet? If so, then you understand where I’m coming from. I left out a lot of the details, all of which are important. Fortunately, not all of those steps have to be done sequentially, so there’s a little bit of variation.

Hmm. When I retired at sixty-two to write full-time, I never anticipated routine becoming a problem. After all, I had been liberated from the bonds of “real work.” As much as I enjoy writing, I expected to fill each and every day making the most of my imagination and my writing skills.

At this stage, I have two novels out, two under contract, and seven that are waiting for some discriminating publisher to fall in love with.

Some of you may have already suspected this, but probably not everyone. With all of the writing I’ve already done, I have a real sense of “What’s the rush? Why push to write something new when only a small percentage of my books have been published or are awaiting publication?”

One thing that helps is I love to edit and revise. That’s what turns a very faulty rough draft into a real novel–or “manuscript” as unpublished novels are called.

On days when I’m busy working on either a rough draft or a revision, I’m not as conscious of the problem of routine. I can still move at my own pace and do as much or as little as I feel like doing that day.

I think the real problem has to do with the limited number of activities I’m apt to do when I’m not busy writing. I do the laundry–light load on Thursday and dark load on Friday. I vacuum–maybe one every couple of weeks.

I cut the grass an average of once a week during the grassy season. I walk–either at the mall or in the neighborhood–five times a week for exercise. I play my guitar and periodically dig an old song out of the notebook to remind myself how it goes.

Oh, and I do read…fiction, of course. And I play Words with Friends with my wife and with a couple of other people.

And let’s not forget the nursing home ministry every Wednesday of the month but one. Or Wednesday night Bible study at church. Or Sunday morning and Sunday evening worship, with choir practice sandwiched in between.

You’d think all of that would keep me from being bothered by a feeling of routine. But it doesn’t. Not always.

Thank goodness for my afternoon nap!

How about you? Are you locked into a routine? How about leaving a comment to share with the rest of us?

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”-check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.

Best regards,
Roger