Several years ago I had the life-changing honor and privilege to participate in a study called Discipleship Essentials, written by Greg Ogden. One of the many takeaways from that study was on a model for prayer (keyword “model”, not a “mandate” as there are many ways to pray) using what is referred to as an acrostic to help teach us to pray. The model is ACTS; Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. ACTS invigorated my prayer life over the years and has served as a reminder to make confession a regular part of prayer as it is often very tempting to skip right to the “bless me” or “save me” part.
The ACTS pattern popped out at me today through Psalm 143. Here’s how I saw it and a good example for our own prayer lives.
Adoration: In verse one, David opens up by addressing God as Lord; his ruler, humbling himself before him and asking him to listen. I read this as “You are God and I am not”; it sets the record straight. David specifically expresses adoration through referencing God as faithful and righteous.
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! (Psalm 143:1)
Confession: David is acknowledging that he is a sinner. We all are. No one living is righteous before him. It is very tempting to skip over this part of prayer because we all have sins and it hurts to confess, however God already knows our sins. Confession is telling God what he already knows. When I get to the confession part and nothing is immediately there to confess, I ask God to reveal my sins that I’ve forgotten or suppressed… and the floodgates open… talk about an answer to prayer…
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:2)
Thanksgiving: Reflecting on what God has done and expressing gratitude.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands. (Psalm 143:5)
Supplication: Asking God to meet your needs and the needs of others. In Psalm 143:7-12, David asks:
- For the Lord to answer him quickly.
- For God to not hide his face from him (or for God to be near and present).
- To hear of God’s steadfast love.
- For direction; the way he should go.
- For deliverance from his enemies; to be within God’s refuge.
- To be taught to do God’s will.
- To be led by the Spirit.
- For his life to be preserved for God’s glory.
- For his soul to be brought out of trouble (again, deliverance).
And finally David has faith that God will answer his prayer; that in His love he will cut off his enemies and destroy the adversaries of his soul. As we worship our God through prayer, we can trust he will take over; we should be faithful because he is faithful.