Be honest. How would you rate your prayer life right now? Is it great? Do you feel as though you are able to connect with God the Father, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit? Do you find you come before God and all of a sudden have nothing to say to Him? You may start our all right, but after a while there is the wall of silence, and you realize you have nothing to say?
I have to admit that I was in a bit of a slump in my prayer life. Then I remembered being at a Holy Spirit Conference, long before I was ordained and the speaker’s topic was prayer. He said, “if you are having trouble spending time before God, if you find you mind is a blank, try using the ACTS.
ACTS is a mnemonic, a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that help you to remember something. In this case ACTS reminds us of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. A.C.T.S. This is a comprehensive structure for prayer and it seems to work.
It helps to write things down. So, get an inexpensive note book and write the date at the top of the page. Then write a big “A” at the top of the page. A is for Adoration, and it means worshipping God. When you come before God begin with worship. Begin by writing a paragraph of praise to the Lord. Sometimes I use a psalm and paraphrase it; or a worship song and I write it down and then I sing it out loud.
Adoration. Praising God is a requirement in the life of a follower of Jesus. Until I started writing out my ACTS of prayer I had trouble praying consistently. We were created to praise and worship God, but because of sin we find it hard to do. This is something we need to work at. It requires consistent practice. And like anything, its going to feel awkward at first. Why begin with worship? It reminds us that God is so great, so worthy of our praise, so majestic, so Holy, that when we come before Him he is so amazing. It prevents our prayer time from falling into a list of needs and allows us to enjoy his presence instead of asking for His presents.
Confession. I know that we pray a corporate confession in our services, but there is room for confessing privately. Maybe confession needs to hurt a bit. There is an expression in the sporting world, “no pain no gain” and maybe in the spiritual world there is the need to confess things where we feel pain in coming before God and admitting there are times when sin and hurt others, hurt the planet, hurt the ones we love. So there is pain in coming before God and admitting we are not all we are called to be. Perhaps we need to experience the pain when we remember the things we “should have done, but didn’t” or “ought not to have done, but did” Those are the things to bring before God. Painful, yes; but remember No pain, no transformation. Something to remember, God has promised to forgive us when we confess from our heart.
Thanksgiving. The Bible says, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Remember the 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus (Luke 17) and only one bothered to stope by to thank our Lord? I think the other nine were thankful. (How could you have been healed from such a debilitating physical problem and not been thankful.) But only one returned to thank Jesus, which prompted Jesus to ask, “Where are the other nine?” It seemed to matter to Jesus. So it should matter to you and me. Be a thanks-giving Christian. Understand the difference between thinking about how you have been blessed, and speaking out loud all those ways God has blessed you.
Suplication. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests before God” (Phil. 4:6). After I have worshipped God, and come to God and honestly confessed my sins, and then given thanks to God (out loud), I am in a position, in a frame of mind to come before God and ask for things for others, for my family, my friends, even my enemies, and then for myself.
Write out in your prayer journal those things you have thought and spoken and then sit in silence and listen for God’s “still small voice.” You could ask a question of God. What have I been too busy doing that I have failed to hear your voice? What do you want me to know?
Then get on with your day. But as Blaise Pascal reminds us, “In difficult times carry something beautiful in your heart.” So, you too carry something that you have experienced of the love of God in your heart.
That's what is on my heart and mind this week.
- Rev. Howard