When I first committed my life to Christ, I wanted to learn to pray. I knew that prayer was an important part of the Christian life but I had no idea how to go about praying. I read a couple of books on prayer but they weren’t a lot of help. I didn’t need anyone to teach me what to pray but how to pray. I had a pretty good idea of what I was supposed to pray, I just didn’t know how to “get it out” so to speak. Finally, I came across the acronym A.C.T.S. as a way of organizing, for lack of a better word, my prayers. This was extraordinarily helpful for them then and it’s something I still use today.
Adoration is, “an attitude of worship characterized by love and reverence toward God”. It is the attitude shown in this passage, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing Psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!” (Psalms 105:1-3 NKJV) When we worship God in prayer we are recognizing that He—and He alone—is worthy of our worship. The Bible gives us several reasons that God is worth of our worship.
His love for us. “Praise the LORD, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. For he loves us with unfailing love; the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!” (Psalms 117:1-2 NLT)
His Greatness. “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms. For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalms 95:1-6 NKJV)
His Salvation. “I will praise You, O LORD, among the peoples, And I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your mercy is great above the heavens, And Your truth reaches to the clouds.” Psalm 108:3-4 (NKJV)
His presence in our lives. “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices….” (Psalms 16:7-9 ESV)
His Goodness toward us. “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalms 103:1-5 NKJV)
Confessing is admitting our sin and failures to God. The Greek word that is translated as confession comes from a Greek verb that means to say the same thing or be of the same mind. What this means is that when we confess our sins to God we are saying the same things about our sin that God says about our sin. What God says about our sin is that it is our fault. We are fully responsible for the sin we’ve committed. God also says that our sin is serious and it was committed against Him. This means that when I confess my sin I can’t say, “He made me do it and it really wasn’t that big of a deal anyway.”
There are two broad categories of sin.
Sin of commission. This is something we all understand. This is a knowing and willing violation of God’s Word. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4 NKJV)
Sin of omission. This is not doing something we know we are supposed to do. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 NKJV)
Genuine confession involves repentance. Genuine repentance is preceded by a sorrow for the sin committed. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV) The godly sorrow that produces genuine repentance in our lives is different from worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is being sorry that we were caught. Worldly sorrow often comes because we are afraid that God is going to punish us for our sins. Godly sorrow isn’t sorrow over being caught and it’s not fear of punishment. Godly sorrow is being sorrow that we have sinned against a holy God who loves us. That is the sorrow that leads us to repentance and brings forgiveness for our sins.
God has given a promise to all who genuinely confess and repent of their sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV) If you genuinely repent of your sin and confess it to the Lord, He will ALWAYS forgive you. Never let your sin keep you from the Lord. Instead, repent, confess and be restored in your relationship with the Lord.
Thanksgiving is simply giving thanks to God for all that He has done in our lives.
The Bible has a lot to say about our need to be thankful. The Bible says, “…Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.” (Colossians 2:7 NLT) “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
How do we let our lives overflow with thanksgiving and give thanks in all circumstances? To do this requires us to be thankful for something that is beyond our circumstances. Our ability to let our lives overflow with thanksgiving so that we can give thanks in all things comes from our focus on Christ and all that He has done for us. When you think about being thankful for Christ and what He has done for you, think in terms of past, present and future.
In the past, Christ died on the cross for your sins. In the past, Christ saved you from your sins. You can also think about the many different things that Christ has done for you in the past. These past works of Christ are settled and will not be affected by the circumstances of life.
In the present, Christ is actively working in you. Christ is always at work in our lives helping become more like Him. It can be hard to see this during the hard times of life but it’s true nonetheless. The present work of Christ in your life is settled and will not be affected by the circumstances of life.
In the future, Christ will take us to be with Him. Focusing on the future promises of Christ reminds us that this world with all its trials and hardships is not all there is. The future work of Christ in your life is settled and will not be affected by the circumstances of life.
When we focus on these things, our lives can overflow with thanksgiving regardless of the circumstances in our lives.
Supplication is to ask something of someone, in this case God. One of the things that is important to remember about prayer is that taking our needs to God and asking Him to provide for us is very much something God wants us to do.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)
:Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)
God actively invites us to go to Him with our requests. God actively invites us to cast all of our cares upon Him. He does this simply because He is good and He loves us. We should never feel selfish or awkward about taking our needs and requests to the Lord. As our Heavenly Father, He wants His children to depend on Him to provide for their needs.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11 (NKJV)
The A.C.T.S. of prayer help me to ensure that my time with the Lord well spent and that I’m saying all that needs to be said.