Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing devotions based on the United Methodist membership vows, where we pledge to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. This week’s focus is prayer.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
During this week, our devotionals are focusing on prayer life. When I first wrestled with taking seminary classes, one argument I had against this thought was: “But, I don’t even know how to pray!” However, the holy nudge I felt said, “GO ANYWAY!” One thing I learned was this: don’t make it easy to talk yourself out of any learning or pathway that God has laid upon your heart! When I finally did begin seminary study, I decided that being open to learning about these things on God’s behalf was all the attitude that I needed.
This scripture from Philippians 4 always reminds me to take my worries to God – without forgetting to rejoice! It also reminds me of one simple way of focusing on prayer, known as the ACTS way to pray. (This is a method I first learned right here at Medford UMC.) To be more specific, the A.C.T.S. way of prayer is an acronym, which does not refer to the book of Acts. Instead it is a guideline that stands for: “Adoration,” “Confession,” “Thanksgiving,” and “Supplication.”
I’ve found that this style of prayer mentions all the ways I want to connect to our Lord and it helps me to focus on them in an order that makes sense! First, you open with how you want to give reverence to our Lord, which is adoration. Think of all the holy ways and holy names you like to use when referring to God and let this be your rejoicing. Then, we confess, which focuses on ways in which we are imperfect: “I am sorry for….” Next, remember to say, “Thank you, Lord,” because even in our frustration, being thankful helps us remain humble. Lastly, the word “supplication,” means support or help. “With what do I really need help?” There are a lot of things with which I need support, so praying the ACTS way can often get me started. One way to pray the ACTS way is to stay on each part until you have covered multiple points of view, and said all you wish to say on that topic.
How do you use the ACTS way to pray?
by Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
All this week our devotions are focusing on prayer. Praying the ACTS way is a useful guideline that brings us back to the basics. Praying the ACTS way can also be useful in a small group, round-table-style forum. An example of this application is to ask the group these questions:
1) What are the favorite names (or images) you think of when talking to our Lord? (Adoration)
2) What imperfection is laid upon your heart that you can share? (Confession)
3) What are some of the things that you are thankful for? (Thanksgiving)
4) How can our Lord (and the group) give you support? (Supplication)
Prayer: Use the above questions to create your own ACTS prayer. Amen, AMEN!