Is there a right and wrong way to pray? Not necessarily. I think God accepts prayer from us, communication from his children, no matter what order we put our prayers. Prayer is versatile. It fits every situation in our lives.
There have been times when my prayers have been filled with thanksgiving for God’s blessings upon my life. Other prayers have been full of requests and asking God to release me from trials. The content of our prayers changes with our circumstances.
Prayer can be there in a pinch. If we find ourselves in sudden terror or trial, the prayer may be an immediate request to God for help. But my favorite prayers are the ones where I can sit in God’s presence and go through a pattern.
What I like about the ACTS prayer model is that it gives me a framework for approaching God’s presence. I don’t just immediately ask him for things. It gives me a way of entering into a relationship with God. It reminds me that this is a relationship and it’s not about my agenda. I think this prayer model helps me listen more to the Spirit.
We’ve been discussing different prayer models we find throughout Scripture. I want to finish this series by talking about a prayer model that is scriptural but not found in Scripture. It takes the acronym for ACTS as an easy way to remember these four steps of prayer. They provide a pattern that leads us from praise to our requests.
We begin our prayer with praise and adoration toward God. Take this beginning part of the prayer to connect with God’s presence and Spirit. God is always there, but we are not always looking for him.
Let the distractions float away as you tell God who he is. Use Scripture from the Psalms and some of the high prayers and hymns of the church in the Bible. It can get you started in your praise, but it must become your own.
Venture out into personal experiences. Remind yourself of God’s goodness to you in your life. Think of all the times he brought you out of trial and was there for you when no one else was. Take time to think about the greatness of God. Ponder the fact that God is transcendent, over his creation, completely unique and unlike it. And yet, he is closer than a brother and your best friend.
Praising God glorifies him, yes, but it reminds you of who he is. You are speaking with the God of the universe. He is great and mighty and unsearchable. And yet he opens his heart to you. He blesses you with good things. And he is concerned with your life. He is concerned for you.
This is the God who is on your side. He’s working in your life to make you more like Christ. This is the Spirit who dwells inside of you to guide you toward holiness. He is the God of the mountains who also walks through the valleys of sorrow in your life.
Praise gives us a sense of the greatness of our personal God. He has been waiting for you to enter his throne room and bask in his presence. Think about God’s attributes and praise him for his mercy and love. This sets the mood for the entire conversation.
Things like sin, distraction, worldliness, temptation, and the like, draw us away from God’s presence. After getting a sense of who God is in your life and what he has done for you, spend a few moments, as much time as needed, to confess before the Lord.
Confession is hard. But we must be open and genuine before God. He knows our hearts. And when we hold back from him, he knows it. The Bible talks about confession. James tells us to confess our sins to one another, so we can certainly confess them to God (James 5:16).
We often think of confession as a negative thing. But if I might persuade you that confession is one of the greatest gifts of God, John tells us that Jesus always hears and forgives us of all sin (1 John 1:9).
Think about that for a moment. What if we had a God who didn’t forgive us? What if it was a one-time deal for salvation and then if we messed up or sinned, that was the end? God is gracious and merciful. He’s not like that at all. He’s not vindictive toward his children.
Confession is the way God gives us to get back to him if we get stuck in the weeds. There’s no sense walking around in the wilderness for 40 years like the Israelites if we can just go to the Promised Land after three weeks.
Take this time to confess any and all of your sins before the Lord. This is the place where our hearts and souls are laid bare on his alter. He can do his most magnificent work of cleansing us and purifying us once again.
And let’s not reserve this time only for sins. Have you spent more time with Jesus than everything else this week? Has God been your priority? Even the most pious Christians are not always connected to God.
There are a number of things that we should be doing that we don’t always do. This is a good time to confess these things to the Lord. If you’re perfect, you’re in heaven. So there’s always something for us to address.
After feeling the cleanliness and forgiveness of God for anything that bothers us about our walk with him, a natural progression is to thank him. We’ve just poured our hearts out to God in praise and worship. And we’ve asked his forgiveness for falling short.
And God has given us forgiveness. It’s a great time to thank him and show our gratitude. There are a million things to thank God for in your life. I have found that Thanksgiving happens best in my life as I go through trials.
I have gotten into the habit of thanking God for things he has promised me. Even though they haven’t become my reality yet, I know that God never reneges on his promises. I thank him for my healing every day, even though it has not yet happened. I know that it will.
You can trust God for his promises to you. You can thank even before he does what you are about to ask in the next step of the prayer. Why not thank him for answering a prayer before he answers it? Thanking God for answers to prayer that he is about to answer shows great faith.
Have you ever thanked God for the trial you are going through? The Bible tells us that he does so much under the hood of our character, lives, and faith in the midst of trials. He strengthens our faith and character. He gives us the ability to endure trials under pressure. We can thank him that he takes a trial and turns around for our good.
Beyond this, gratitude is one of the foundations of Christian character. God wants to work gratitude and generosity into our daily lives. What better than our prayers to be the training ground for developing a heart of gratitude?
Take this time in your prayer pattern to thank God for every good gift that comes from him. Thank him that he’s working out your trial and your situation behind the scenes. Thank him for the outcome that he will bring in your favor.
And thank him that when things don’t work out your way they are still working out his way. God is never surprised by what we face. He sees it coming way before we do. Thank him that he is sovereign and in control of the situation even though you don’t feel that way.
Now we get to the final step of our prayer, offering requests to the Lord. This doesn’t just have to be for us. It can be for others around us. It’s called intercessory prayer, and it’s a powerful ministry that God has placed in our hands.
This is usually the part of the prayer most Christians begin with. We usually open with a quick address to God like, “Jesus,” or “Dear Lord,” and then we pour out all of our cares and problems on the Lord. Of course, we expect him to do everything we ask.
It’s almost like a blindside prayer. We enter God’s presence with two words, blurt out everything that’s wrong in our lives, maybe thank him if we think of it, and hit the road. It’s not that these prayers aren’t accepted by him or even necessary in an emergency. But this cannot be our regular mode of prayer.
Some people worry if they offer too many requests before the Lord. He has big shoulders. He can handle every request from what we think is small to large. We must believe that Jesus will answer our requests. If we don’t, how can God answer prayers offered in doubt (James 1:5-8)?
I know God is not a human being. But when you ask God for things, think of how your spouse or someone who loves you would respond. How would they feel if you ran into the room, dumped a couple of demands on them, and then walked out, expecting them to do them? God is a Person, and respect for him takes precedence over our needs.
The more you use this prayer model, the more you will find your prayer requests beginning to align with God’s will. As you see how great and good God is in the first step, how he forgives better than you can forgive, and how grateful you are to him, your requests become more about fulfilling his will than your own.
When you look at the prayers of Paul and other apostles, you may notice that Paul does not pray for where his next meal comes. He prays for things like the salvation and growth of the Saints in his churches. He asks God to do great things in their lives.
Requests for ourselves and our lives are not selfish. But as we continue to see God’s goodness and provision in our lives, that he knows about and takes care of every need before we even know we have them, we begin to look to the more eternal things.
Take this time in your prayer to ask God whatever you need. Remember to pray in faith without doubting he can do it. I suggest you start with the impossible. God is God of the impossible. And if we truly believe in his power, we can ask what we believe is impossible.
Ask for the small things too. God can do it all. I also suggest that you begin a ministry to others of intercessory prayer. Don’t just pray for yourself. Pray for others, and pray for them first. Putting the needs of others in front of our own teaches us contentment, trust in God, and concern for others. Include unsaved loved ones, friends, coworkers, and others who don’t know Jesus around you.
This is a powerful prayer model that anyone can utilize to approach God’s throne, clean before him, thank him for the goodness he lavishes on our lives, and ask him to do the great things he does. It’s a prayer of approach and trust in our loving Father.
You can trust in God to do great things in your life. You can take your needs and the needs of others before him. God always answers prayer. It’s not always the way we think he will, but he always answers.
Take your time in God’s presence. He’s not going anywhere. And he enjoys connecting with you. He loves you more than you will ever know. Use this prayer pattern to speak with the God of the universe, your best friend.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this prayer model. Can you see the benefits of using it on a daily basis to talk to God?