I’m a Christian who has a a hard time praying. Wierd right? That’s like being a bee who has a hard time making honey, or a fish that has a hard time swimming. Prayer seems like one of those things that should come naturally to someone who was raised by a pastor and has been a Christian her whole life. But alas, it is something I struggle with. There are lots of different things that make prayer difficult for me, but the major one is that I often don’t know what to say or exactly how to pray. I don’t just want to give God a laundry list of things I desire. I want prayer time to be meaningful and to be a conversation, but I don’t always know how to do that.
My small group leader a few years ago taught me that prayer has four parts: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. I remember it as ACTS. This little acronym has helped improve my prayer life immensely. Whenever I go to pray and am just completely stumped as to what to say, I write out ACTS on a piece of paper and start at the top.
Adoration- First, tell God how great He is. Repeat his attributes to Him. For example, “God You are wonderful, You are the creator of heaven and Earth. You are Alpha and Omega. You are loving and kind.”
Confession- Confess your sins. All the sins…even the little ones.
Thanksgiving- Thank God for everything. I make it a regular habit of thanking God for my car and my iphone because without those two things my life would be much more difficult.
Supplication- This is wherre you get to ask God for things for yourself and on behalf of other people. Don’t be afraid to ask for big things! Obviously, we shouldn’t be asking for needless material possesions but there are major life issues that require serious prayer. Pray that your mom is healed of cancer. Pray for God to take away your drug addiction. Pray for the salvation of your coworker. Pray that God miraciously provides food for your family even though your out of money. Pray for a job. God love us and wants to bless us and hear our prayers but you have to ask!
This may seem too structured and too much like a formula for some people. If you don’t need it, that’s fine, but if you are struggling with prayer I strongly suggest you use it. Think of it this way: do you always have meaningful coneversations with important people in your life? Are you able to have a deep emotional conversation with your roommate every time she walks in the door? Do you and your husband always have a million things to say to each other? Does your family talk non stop at the dinner table? Most likely, no. In those times we all revert to formulaic questions to get the conversation going. For example, we ask “How was your day” or “What did you do this weekend?” Think of this formula as a jump start to the conversation with the Big Guy. Its something to help you get in the habit of prayer so that eventually, it just comes naturally to you.
So there you go, my quick little guide to prayer. How do you pray? Do you pray out loud or write in a journal? Do you pray for big things? Share your thoughts in the comments below