What is the ACTS method of prayer?
The acronym ACTS, as related to prayer, stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Loosely based on the Lord's Prayer, many believers have been taught the ACTS method as an outline or model for their prayers.
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Adoration means worshipping God. We first approach Him with love and give Him praise for who He is. We see this in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9) as well as throughout the Bible in Psalms of praise as well as doxologies in the New Testament. God is worthy of our worship and praise. When we come to Him in prayer, we begin by acknowledging who He is and adoring Him.
Confession means to agree with God about our sins. First John 1:8–9 talks about confessing our sins and trusting that God will forgive us. After we have acknowledged who God is, we acknowledge our sinfulness before Him. In Christ, we trust that we have been and will be forgiven (2 Corinthians 5:21). Hebrews 4:14–16 makes it clear that our sins have been atoned for and that we can approach God confidently: "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Our confession of sin is essentially relationship maintenance. While our sins do not have eternal consequences, they can get in the way of our current relationship with God and impede His work of sanctification. So we confess sin, receive His forgiveness, and approach Him with confidence.
Thanksgiving means to thank God for the things He has done. We can first thank Him for forgiveness. We also thank Him for things like providing for our needs (Matthew 6:32–33), lavishing us with His love (Ephesians 1:3–14), friends, family, the beauty of nature, the positive things in our lives, the hardships in our lives through which we are learning, and the like. First Thessalonians 5:16–18 talks about rejoicing, praying without ceasing, and giving thanks in all circumstances. First Timothy 1:1 talks about making prayers, intercessions, supplications, and thanksgivings for all people. Philippians 4:6–7 similarly calls believers to pray with thanksgiving.
Finally, we end with supplication, or making requests to God. Here we bring Him our needs and our worries. We ask Him to work on our behalf or on the behalf of our loved ones or our nation or those who don't know Him. Everything can be a matter of prayer. First Thessalonians 5:17 says to "pray without ceasing." After describing the armor of God, Paul tells the Ephesians to also be "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18). Philippians 4:6–7 says, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." We can bring any request or petition to God. Yet we should do so with the desire to ultimately seek His will. As Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, "Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). We bring God our specific requests and also submit to His greater knowledge and love (Proverbs 3:5–6).
The ACTS method of prayer can serve as a helpful model. Certainly all of its elements are biblical. However, it is not a requirement that every prayer include every aspect of ACTS, nor that each aspect is prayed in a specific order.
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