When we are first learning about God and begin praying to Him, our prayers may seem more us focused and less God-focused. While talking to God, we need to remember that this time is meant for more than a shopping list of what we want from Him. Of course, He does care about our needs, but it is also a time of relationship with our Heavenly Father. When I was young, I learned the acrostic A.C.T.S as a guideline for praying, and it has stuck with me for many years. It helps me to stay focused on God and others and not just my own needs.
What does adoration mean? Simply put this means telling God how wonderful and mighty He is. God is the only one who deserves all of our praise and worship; He is the one who we adore! It makes sense that when we talk to Him, we tell Him how great He is. He made the earth and everything in it, how can we not be amazed by His great works?
"Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!" Psalm 95:1-6
In our confession, we acknowledge our sin before God and agree with Him that it was a sin. We need not worry that God will be upset with us over our wrongdoing, He is God, He already knows all of our mistakes. Still, it is a time to be sorry for what we have done and ask God's forgiveness, which He freely gives us.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
Thanksgiving means being thankful to God for all that He has done and will do for us! We should thank Him for His wonderful love for us, the grace He extends, the blessings He has given us and our needs that He provides for.
"I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:12
Supplication is the final step in this prayer acrostic. It is when we ask God to meet our needs and the needs of others such as our families, friends, pastor, missionaries and persecuted Christians around the world. It is also a time to ask God to make himself known to the hurting and specific people that we know who need Him. God wants us to pray to Him to meet our needs, no matter how big or small!
"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6
Praying through the A.C.T.S is not meant to be a strict guideline to how everyone should always pray. It is a flexible tool, and you can use it the way that it will most benefit your prayer life. It is a great little reminder though of what our prayers should contain and has helped many Christians have a better understanding of prayer.