The ACTS prayer method is a super simple and straightforward way to pray. This method is used quite commonly in church circles, and it’s taught widely. It’s simple, it’s easy to remember, and it helps to structure your prayer time and prevent your mind from wandering or just going blank.
This model helps you to exchange your own concerns for God’s perspective. This is because we spend the most time on worship of God, confession of our sins, and thanksgiving for the good things in our lives. Only at the end – only for 1/4 of the prayer – do we ask for anything. This can help you to shift a mindset that is focused on what you need, what is lacking in your life, and your fears and concerns, to one that is focused on the greatness of God and the good things that He has given you.
In the ACTS model of prayer, we focus on four things:
- (A) Adoration
- (C) Confession
- (T) Thanksgiving
- (S) Supplication
You can use these 4 categories to structure your prayer time and give you something to focus on. This can help to prevent the prayer-block that can happen when you sit down with the intention to pray, but you have no set direction or structure for your prayer time.
Begin by worshipping God for who He is. Focus on His character and His attributes.
For example, “God, thank You for being trustworthy and kind. You have never broken a promise, and everything You say will happen. I praise You for being all-knowing. You’re seated above the heavens and You oversee the galaxies, but not one detail escapes You. In fact, You take care of the sparrows and You count every hair on my head. You know everything about me, and yet You love me anyway…”
It’s important to begin our prayer time with our eyes and hearts focused on God, because we were created to glorify God (Psalm 96). Our entire world gains clarity when we are reminded who God is. Personally, I’ve found this time or worship to reinvigorate my desire for prayer; when I remind myself that God is strong and loving, I am eager to pour out my heart to Him.
He is both capable of taking care of us and He desires to care for us. That alone should compel us to prayer.
Next, confess your sins to God. List everything that comes to mind, and when you’ve exhausted that, ask God to search your heart and reveal any hidden sin that you’ve overlooked (Psalm 139:23-24). Too often, we allow sins to accumulate in our lives, and we ignore them because, “Well, God already forgave them on the cross.”
Scripture tells us it’s important to confess our sins to God, to name them, acknowledge them, and ask His forgiveness for them. And once we have done so, we can rest assured that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). But just because the outcome is secure doesn’t mean we don’t need to practice confession. In fact, the assurance of forgiveness should move us toward confession.
In this confession, you may also realize that you need to make restitution to someone or ask someone’s forgiveness whom you’ve wronged. Don’t delay! As Jesus says, if you’re in the middle of worship and you remember that someone has a bone to pick with you, rush over and seek reconciliation. Then come back and continue your worship (Matthew 5:23-24).
Confession is essential to the spiritual health of every believer.
After you’ve received forgiveness, it’s time to give thanks for the many gifts God has blessed you with.
Whereas adoration is about who God is, thanksgiving is about what God has done.
- Thank Him for the basics, like food, clothing, shelter, family, friends.
- Thank Him for the big thingslike salvation, forgiveness, an eternal home, fellowship with brothers and sisters, spiritual giftings.
- Thank Him for the little things that speak of His care, like the tulips budding in your yard, the gorgeous sunrise that greeted you this morning, and even the unexpected sale on that kitchen staple you always run out of.
If you have a hard time focusing, try writing down your list of things to be thankful for. Many people will keep a running list in their home of the many gifts God has given them, big and small, and they’ll review that list whenever they’re feeling grumpy or want to complain. Scripture clearly tells us to “give thanks in everything, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes 5:18).
So begin this daily habit of giving thanks.
Notice how we left our requests for the end? That’s intentional. After going through Adoration, Confession, and Thanksgiving, I’ve often found that everything, even my prayer requests, change. My selfish requests that were all about me are replaced with a God-given perspective on what to ask for.
This is the time to cast your cares on God. Whatever you’re worried about, pour out your heart to Him, and ask Him to move in a mighty way. Ask confidently and boldly, but not demanding. God is not a genie in a bottle but rather a loving Father who gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).
Ask, and then trust that He will do as He sees best.
This is the ACTS prayer method. It is an easy acronym to remember, and you can spend as much or as little time with each section of prayer. This is also a great way to teach our children how to pray, instilling in them the truth that prayer is more about letting God change us than us telling God what to do.