So, how did you do with this week’s challenge? Did you try Roses, Thorns, and Morning Glories? How did that work for you? It really is a great way to get started in your conversations with God. But you’ve probably already realized that it isn’t the most in-depth prayer strategy.
If you have a prayer system that works for you, don’t let me stop you. But if you’re still searching for one, allow me to recommend ACTS.
(Some people like to use CATS as their model. It doesn’t really matter which one you follow, but I like ACTS because it makes me think of the early Christians who “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42. Not bad role models.)
Here is how ACTS works:
Start your prayer by praising God for who he is. This reminds us who we are praying to and puts us in the proper frame of mind to continue our prayer. We are going before the throne of the Almighty. This means that we need to be humble in our attitude before him, but it also means that we can be confident that the One we pray to has the power to do anything that we ask of him.
Psalm is a great book to use for praising God. Pick any Psalm and either read it to God or put it in your own words. Finding a list of the names of God is also an excellent way to get started adoring God for who he is. Here is a good list from Stonecroft Ministries.
Part of our prayer time should be spent confessing our sins to God so that we can repent of them and become more Christ like. It’s easy to gloss over this step with a quick “forgive me for sinning,” but that’s not going to cut it. Be as specific as possible. Yes, sometimes it hurts. Do it anyway.
Confess any wrong actions you have taken, like gossiping, lying (yes, even white lies) or cheating on your taxes. But don’t stop there. Confess any un-Christlike thoughts or attitudes you’ve had that day as well.
The third step in the ACTS prayer is thanking God for all that he has given us. I can pull out a list of a hundred things without even trying, starting with my family, my health, my salvation, my friends…you get the idea. And while it’s important to thank God for those things on a regular basis, I also try to pick out something specific to that day to thank him for as well, like an event that went well or the opportunity to catch up with an old friend. Otherwise, I often find myself running through the same list every day without actually thinking about what I’m praying.
This is the part of the prayer where we finally get around to asking God for things. By this point, we should be humbled, forgiven, and thankful, so that we can ask out of a pure heart.
Other Tips for Successful Prayer:
We can pray anytime, anywhere, and God has promised to hear us (2 Chronicles 7:14). But there are a couple of things we can do to help boost our prayer life.
Pray in the Same Place and Time
Human beings are creatures of habit. We can make that work for us by developing a habit of prayer. Once we train ourselves to follow a routine, it takes significantly less effort to stick to it.
Routines are especially helpful if you live with someone else. It’s a lot easier for them to avoid disturbing you during prayer time if it’s an actual time. Your roommate will know not to knock on your door at 9:00. Or your kids can learn that when Mom is sitting in her prayer chair, you don’t interrupt unless it’s a matter of life and death. This might seem strange to them at first, but once it becomes the every day, they’ll adapt to it.
Pray in the Morning
Okay, so this isn’t an absolute, but I really recommend placing your prayer time as early in the morning as you can. I know this might be rough on you if you’re just not a morning person, but hear me out.
Yes, we can pray anytime. And if it works best for you to have your quiet time after you’ve put the kids to bed for the night, go for it. But the fact is, the longer we wait to pray, the more likely unforeseen circumstances are going to crop up that through us off our schedule and wipe out prayer time.
Praying in the morning also gets us more in tune with God for the day. Instead of catching up with God at the end of the day, we can take him with us through whatever comes our way.
Keep a Prayer Journal
I hate journaling, mostly because I’m really bad at it. Whether it’s a daily diary, an exercise log, or a prayer journal, I’m awful at keeping it updated. But it really is important that we write down our prayers and God’s response to them. Having a way to track our prayer gives us a record of how we have grown in our walk with God as well as how God has answered us, both of which can be extremely encouraging when we hit a slump.
We’re going to spend a lot more time talking about prayer, since we do consider it to be the primary work of God’s people. So if you have prayer tips to share with others or questions that need answered, leave them in the comments below to find their way into a future post.