Last week we started a prayer series and discussed that we should pray about any and everything - whether big, life changing decisions or even the smaller things. We were also encouraged to pray continually, throughout the day, because we need God daily. Let’s talk how. How are we supposed to go about praying, what are the different elements of prayer? Because if we know how to pray, the process becomes much easier and well-rounded.
Let’s look at the ACTS model of prayer - you may have heard of it - it’s a fantastic, Biblical model for prayer. As Christians, we look to Jesus as our spiritual role model for everything, prayer included. Matthew 5-7 is Jesus’ most famous sermon, where He spoke on a variety of topics. Let’s see what His prayer looks like, and how we can model after it. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus says,
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
Here is our prayer model, straight from Jesus. Starting with verses 9 and 10, we see Jesus showing His respect to His Heavenly Father. “Hallowed” is praising God for how holy, pure, and perfect He is. The first element of prayer, our letter “A” for ACTS is for adoration. God is so good, perfect, holy, loving, kind, righteous, pure, etc… How often do we praise Him in our prayer life? Just like how you’d adore and swoon over on a role model you may have here on earth (think: athlete, celebrity you admire, etc.), we should do even more for our Heavenly Father.
Our second letter, “C” comes from verses 12 and 13. “Forgive us our debts.” Sin is something that we can all relate to, and unfortunately we do it quite often. Just like you’d apologize to someone for wronging them, we should be quick to apologize to our Father when we dishonor Him. Confession. The beautiful part of Jesus and the promise of His death and resurrection is that if we ask for forgiveness, we have confidence that the Lord is quite to extend grace and forgive us (1 John 1:9). Because of our frequency of sin, we should likely have confession as a regular part of prayer life - and be encouraged that you are forgiven and loved absolutely no matter what.
Beware, people with OCD! We’re going to skip “T” for now, and go to the fourth letter “S.” Sorry, it bugs me too. Jesus said in His prayer, “give us this day our daily bread.” Food is something that we need to survive. Jesus, in this one beautiful little line is asking the Father - give us what we need to survive. Please provide for us the things only You can provide. We are needy people, so we should regularly be praying for God to provide for us. “S” stands for supplication. What are things you need on a daily basis, that only God can give you? Mercy and grace, strength, wisdom, understanding, guidance to name a quick few…
Now to wrap this up, with the third letter “T.” This is a little bonus that comes from Philippians 4:6, when it says “with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” We certainly have so much to be thankful for, and we know that all good things come from Heaven. Thanksgiving should be routinely on our lips, in our conversation with God.
Let’s praise God for how good He is, ask for forgiveness when we need it, pray that God would provide what only He can provide, and thank Him for the many blessings we have. Prayer is no formula, it is not a checklist. I’m not saying that we must have all these elements in every prayer we pray, but these are things that should be on our hearts on a regular basis. What does your prayer life look like? Is there an element or two from the ACTS model of prayer that you could pray more of?