As I promised in the last post, I am going to cover the ACTS pattern for prayer, that I was first introduced to in the book "Too Busy Not To Pray." I have been writing out all my prayers that I use with this pattern and it has been helpful for staying focused and it is cool to look back on what I'm talking to God about!
To begin your time in prayer, you start with Adoration. This is when you praise God for who He is and the great things He does. A suggestion for inspiration on this topic is reading some of the many praise chapters in Psalms. Personally I've noticed that meditating and declaring how holy God is really helps me focus in on His glory and truly adore Him. Often I find my self writing or saying "You are Holy, Holy, Holy!" over and over again, and I often get that feeling of being in the presence of something truly awe-inspiring when I focus this way, which is amazing.
Next is Confession. In the book Hybels emphasis how powerful it is to be specific with your confessions and how it can help you truly change faster. (As Hybels says, it gets old real fast to repent of the same sin a few days or weeks in a row and that can help you be aware and work on changing!) For example, rather than saying, "I am sorry for not treating my husband well yesterday," you should name the fault--"I'm sorry for speaking sharply to my husband and putting my comfort before his needs." It has really helped me be more honest with myself and with God and to be more aware of my actions.
After confession, comes Thanksgiving. I love thanking God, so this one often slips into my prayers in the other categories too. =) It is so powerful and helps me acknowledge my blessings when I thank God for all the great things he is doing in my life! Hybels took all of his areas of life and found that they could fit into four areas in which he could give thanks: answered prayers, spiritual blessing, relational blessing, and material blessing. A cool testimony here is that within the first few days of following this pattern, I had prayed for Peter to get more private lessons students. Since then, he has had 2 more people out of the blue sign up for private lessons, and 4 more have said they are seriously considering starting lessons (and one family said they would refer Peter to another family with 4 kids)! It is so exciting to see God answer prayer!
The last item in this pattern is Supplication. This is when you ask God for whatever is on your heart. Hybels again divided his requests into categories that covered his life. First he prays for his ministry (I call this one ministry/work, so that it covers our jobs as well as our churches and the things we believe God has called us to). Then he prays for people--his friends, important or influential people, or anyone else God has placed on his heart. Next is family, which is pretty self explanatory--your immediate and extend family and their needs, be it provision, salvation, or whatever God leads.
Finally, he prays for his own personal needs. At this point you have adored God and confessed, thanked Him and prayed for others in your life. This approach often changes your perspective and attitude regarding personal requests. I have found it to be excellent and that I pray for more important things in my own life after I have this broader perspective through thinking about how great God is and the needs of others around me first.
I have found that a lot of freedom works better for me when I follow this pattern. At first I would try to write a paragraph for each topic and subtopic, which was really great, but took a lot longer than the 20 minutes I'm trying to do every morning before work. So when I have more time, I do a longer prayer, but if I'm short on minutes I simply make sure I hit each point with at least a sentence. I also don't worry as much now about making sure all my "thanks," for example, stay in the thanksgiving spot. I'm treating it more like guidelines rather than a strict form, and it has worked excellently for giving more structure to my prayer time!
Do you have a pattern you follow when you pray? What does your prayer time look like?
Facebook Readers: Interested in more of my blog? Visit mybreathingheart.blogspot.com!