In the past week I've been trying to use some of the "prayer tools" that I learned in 10 years ago. Two of the most successful for me are the ACTS acronym and Beth Moore's Praying God's Word. ACTS stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. It's a map to guide you through a time of prayer so that you don't forget some of those important parts. Praying God's Word is a book that categorizes Bible verses to pray for different challenges in your life. I've been using them together.
First thing in the morning when I'm trying to think of what to say to God in adoration, sometimes I'm a little stuck. Today I opened up Praying God's Word and read Scriptures aloud about how amazing God is. Several of them came from Psalm 145, so I turned there for some extra credit reading. Wow! I think I'll just stick to Psalm 145 for a while. There's a lot to digest. In particular this morning I was struck by verse 13: The Lord is faithful to all his promises.
Since I don't practice confession very often, sometimes I have a hard time getting going. Usually I like to pray out loud the confession prayer from my Book of Common Prayer. It doesn't take me long before I begin remembering more than a few things I can confess, and I revel in the last few lines about forgiveness in Jesus and a new commitment to obedience.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Didn't Oprah say something once about writing a list every day of 5 things you're thankful for? It's probably a good practice to keep you positive and humble. I've been working at this for a while. No need to stop at 5!
Supplication is asking prayer. Most of the time I think we start here and usually end here. It's good to ask God for what we want and need, but I doubt we'll have a very full relationship with Him if that's all when do when we talk to him.
So that's ACTS. My friend Jenny reminded me this week about listening in prayer. That's a definite weakness of the ACTS prayer, but one that can always be remedied! I want prayer to be a two-way conversation, not a list of things I have to tell God. It's a relationship, right?