The ACTS prayer is not something we read about in the New Testament Book of Acts. It’s simply an acronym for four elements of prayer to help men focus on God and the types of prayers seen in Scripture.
The acronym ACTS stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. It’s a model of prayer a century old, thought to be first published in a series in the August 1883 periodical The Continent. This model of prayer prioritizes approaching God with reverence (adoration), acknowledging shortcomings in our life (confession), expressing gratitude for all God has done (thanksgiving), and finally submitting our requests (supplication) to Him.
How Can Men Use the ACTS Prayer Method?
Here’s how to pray using the themes laid out in the ACTS method:
ADORATION. Perhaps the best place to start our prayers is acknowledging God’s holy and majestic character as revealed in Scripture. Adoration is distinct than thanksgiving which is expressing gratitude for what God has done. Adoration is even deeper—praising God for Who He is. Scripture affirms God is worthy of all our praise, regardless of what He has given to us or chosen to withhold from our lives. He is worthy simply because He is God. Psalm 103 reminds us of a few of God’s many attributes worthy of praise.
In Matthew 6:9, Jesus provided His disciples a model prayer that begins with adoration.
Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” Jesus encouraged his followers to prayers with adoration by acknowledging God’s holy character and expressing the desire God be glorified in our lives.
“Dear Heavenly Father, You are worthy of praise. For You are the Creator and Sustainer of Life. You are my Provider and Savior. You are Sovereign over all things. You are All-Wise and Wonderful. From everlasting to everlasting, You are God. To You alone belongs honor and glory.”
CONFESSION The “C” in the ACTS prayer is confession. We know prayer hinders fellowship with God and with other (1 Peter 3:7).
In Psalm 32:3-5, David prayed:
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
God already knows our sins, so we don’t provide information to God when we confess. Instead, we are agreeing with God that sin is an offense to Him and contrary to His will for our lives. We are acknowledging our need for God’s forgiveness made possible through the substitutionary sacrifice Jesus provided on our behalf. Turning to God in confession means we are turning from sin and appropriating the forgiveness for our guilt and cleansing from shame. Of course, this has all been made possible through the finished work of Christ who paid our sin debt. I 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 clear we are to be consistently thankful to God. I Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us this way: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Note the passage does not say “Be thankful for good things”. Instead, we’re commanded to be thankful in everything – even trials—because we are in Christ. To obey this challenge, we must respond to our circumstances in faith, not based on our circumstances.
Gratitude to God can become a lifestyle, but it requires submitting our natural feelings of fear, anxiety, or anger to faith in God. Perhaps the notion of thanking God for trials—being grateful to God for something withheld—seems strange. But consider the refining work God may be accomplishing in our character. He may be developing perseverance and endurance in our lives. By faith we can be thankful God is at work for the good of all “those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
I have found when we begin to thank God for everything, not just the good things, it completely changes our perspective and makes us grateful people. Thanking God in everything gets the focus off circumstances and back on God, where it belongs
SUPPLICATION. This is simply a term for making requests. In Philippians 4:6, we’re told not to be ruled by anxiety “but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We’re told when we do this (submitting our requests to God alongside a thankful heart—which is God’s will), the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (verse 7).
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? …”
We should ask, seek, and knock. And as you do, we may find God hears far more of our prayers than we previously thought.
Why the ACTS Method Is a Great Prayer Outline
The Acts Prayer Method is designed to help men stay focused (keeping our mind from wandering) during times of prayer. It also provides a ‘balanced prayer life’ since our requests are often our default setting when it comes to prayer. We ask God for what we want without first acknowledging His holiness and greatness.
God is waiting for men to spend time in prayer with Him.
This article was adapted, with acknowledgement, to author Cindi McMenamin. It first appeared on Crosswalk.com June 14, 2021. The original article may be found here: https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/prayer/what-is-the-acts-prayer-method-and-how-do-you-pray-it.html