Prayer Requests and Learning How to Pray

What Is the ACTS Prayer Method and How Do You Pray It?

What Is the ACTS Prayer Method and How Do You Pray It?

Have you heard other believers talk about the ACTS Prayer and wondered what it was?

In case you were too shy to ask, the ACTS prayer is not one that is prayed in the New Testament book of Acts. Nor is it a prayer that implies action rather than words. It is simply an acronym for four elements of prayer that can keep you focused on God and what you are praying about so you don’t drift in and out of rambling before your Maker.

Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need” (NASB). So, here is a way that you can confidently come before God’s throne to praise Him, repent, thank Him and request what it is you need.

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What Is the ACTS Prayer Method?

This method of prayer serves as an outline or guide for prayer so you can organize your thoughts and requests. The acronym ACTS stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. It’s a model of prayer that is more than a century old, as it was believed to first be published as part of a story series in the August 1883 periodical The Continent. This model of prayer prioritizes our time with God so we first approach Him with reverence (adoration), then repent of the sin in our life (confession), then express our gratitude to Him for all He has done (thanksgiving), and finally submit to Him our requests (supplication).

How Do You Pray Using the ACTS Prayer Method?

Prayer is meant to be sincere and from the heart. Therefore, there are no exact words to recite, but instead main ideas or categories to follow. Here is how to pray using the ACTS prayer:

Adoration

Start your prayer adoring God for Who He is. Adoration is different than thanksgiving (which comes later in this prayer) because adoration is praising God for Who He is, whereas thanksgiving is thanking God for what He’s done. Scripture says God is worthy or our praise, regardless of what He has given to us or withheld from us. He is worthy simply because He is God. You can use Scripture, like Psalm 100:5, to recount God’s worthiness as you adore Him: “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations” (NKJV). Or you can pray whatever the Spirit of God brings to your mind about the worthiness and wonder of God’s attributes and character.

In Matthew 6:10, Jesus taught His followers to start their prayers with adoration, when He prayed, “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed [or holy] be Your name.” You can start your prayers with adoration for God by recounting His many characteristics in the form of praise. For example, “Lord God in Heaven, You are worthy to be praised. You are the Creator and Sustainer of Life and from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”

Related: Listen to our FREE podcast, Teach Us to Pray with Christina Patterson. You can find all the episodes at LifeAudio.com. Here's Episode 1:

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Confession

The “C” in the ACTS prayer is admitting and confessing your sin to God so that your prayers will not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7). In Psalm 32:3-5, David prayed:

“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away
Through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality failed as with the dry heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to You,
And I did not hide my guilt;
I said, “I will confess my wrongdoings to the Lord”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin (NASB).”

Yes, God already knows about our sins, but by confessing them, we are admitting to and acknowledging that our sin is offensive to God and agreeing with Him that we need His Son, Jesus, to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. First John 1:9 tells us “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Thanksgiving

Scripture is very clear on our command to be grateful, and not just for what God has given us. First Thessalonians 5:18 instructs: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Notice the verse doesn’t say “In good things give thanks” or “in the pleasantries of life, give thanks.” Rather, it commands us to be thankful in everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. As you do this, you are living out “the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” as the verse states.

Practice gratitude to God in everything, by thanking Him for the difficulties you are facing on any given day, for the things He has withheld for your own good, for the refining work He is doing in your soul, for the trials that are molding you into the image of Christ, and for the way He can redeem all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I have found that when I begin to thank God for everything, not just the good things, it completely changes my perspective and makes me far more of a grateful person. Thanking God in everything gets the focus off of us and what we’ve been given and puts the focus back on God, the ultimate Giver.

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Supplication

This is a fancy word for making requests. In Philippians 4:6, we’re told not to worry about anything, “but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We are told when we do this (ask God for our requests, along with a heart that is thankful for what God has already done, as well as for what He will do), the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (verse 7).

I’ve heard some believers say they feel selfish asking God for anything for themselves, so they only pray for others to be blessed. Yet, Scripture tells us if we as parents who are sinful by nature know how to give good gifts to our children, “how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11).

Psalm 84:11 tells us God “withholds no good thing from those who walk with integrity.” And Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-12: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or what person is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? ...”

So go ahead and ask, seek, and knock. And as you do, you may find that God hears far more of your prayers than you thought.

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Why the ACTS Method Is a Great Prayer Outline

The Acts Prayer Method can not only help you stay focused (and keep your mind from wandering) during your prayer time, but it can also balance out your prayers so they are not so self-focused. Some of us go straight to God and ask Him for what we want, without first acknowledging His worth or even His presence. While God tells us we can come boldly to His throne of grace and ask for what we need (Hebrews 4:16), would you present an honored guest or a respected authority figure with your wish list before even acknowledging their presence or the privilege of being heard?

The ACTS prayer ensures that you are praising God for who He is, confessing sin on your heart that could otherwise hinder your prayers, and thanking Him for all He is doing in your life before asking Him for all that you want and need. And for those on the other side of the spectrum who hesitate to come before God and ask Him for anything, this prayer can help them gain confidence that there is a proper place and time to do that in prayer.

So what are you waiting for? There’s a lot of adoring, confessing, thanking, and requesting to do when it comes to your relationship with the Most High God. And He’s been waiting for you to spend some extended time with Him.

For more on sensing God’s presence, listening for His voice, and learning how to pray, see Cindi’s books: God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needsand When Women Long for Rest.

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Cindi McMenamin headshotCindi McMenamin is a national speaker, Bible teacher, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books, including When Women Walk Alone  (more than 150,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s HurtsWhen God Sees Your Tears and When Couples Walk Together , which she co-authored with her husband of 32 years. Find out more about her speaking ministry, coaching services for writers, and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, at www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.



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