by Candy Arrington
Pray, then, in this way. Matthew 6:9 AMP
During the years Jesus was with his disciples, he equipped them with everything they needed to live an abundant life once he returned to his Father. In Jesus’ instructions on prayer, he taught his disciples to find a quiet, private place to be with the Father, and to present their needs to God in a straightforward, simple manner.
“And when you pray, do not go on and on, excessively and strangely like the outsiders; they think their verbosity will let them be heard by their deities. Do not be like them. Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose—for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him” (Matthew 6:7-8 VOICE).
Jesus also reminded the disciples that although God already knows our needs, he wants us to talk to him and spend time with him. Prayer is a way to develop a deeper relationship with God.
Sometimes when I pray, my mind wanders. I start off focused, but midway through my prayer I start thinking about something else. Later I realize I stopped praying, started daydreaming, and never finished my conversation with God. How rude!
To help stay focused in prayer, I use the A.C.T.S. acrostic. It draws on elements of the model prayer Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 6: 9-13.
ADORATION – Address God as Father. He wants to have a personal relationship with us, one in which we think of him as a loving father. Another word for adoration is praise. Praise God for who he is, for his power, and his purposes. Acknowledge his control and trust him to work things out for your good. As part of your adoration, read a Psalm aloud that names God’s good qualities, or spend time looking up some of the names of God and call Him by those names as you pray, such as Adonai, Yahweh Ro’i, El Shaddai.
CONFESSION – This is probably the hardest part of prayer but the most necessary. Sin can be a hindrance to our relationship with God. Until we admit the things in our lives that are out of step with God, he may withhold blessing. Be honest. You know what you’ve done wrong or when you’ve failed to obey. Admit your sin and ask for forgiveness. God will receive you with open arms.
THANKSGIVING – We have much for which to be thankful. Because Jesus provided a bridge to God by his death on the cross, we have fellowship with the Father. Prayer is a privilege. The opportunity to talk directly to God would not be possible without Jesus’ sacrifice. Start by thanking God for your salvation. Then think of other ways he’s blessed your life.
SUPPLICATION – This is a big word for requests. Tell God the needs in your life and ask him to work things out, even if the situation seems impossible. God is capable of more than our minds can imagine. Don’t forget to pray for others during this time. Notice the “asking” part of the prayer comes at the end—after praise, confession, and thanks. The first three set the context for what we request. We are able to ask in faith when we have reminded ourselves of who God is and how we have seen Him act in the past.
Using the A.C.T.S. acrostic in prayer is a great tool to remind us that there is more to prayer than listing out our needs and wants.
If focusing while praying is still a problem, try writing your prayers in a private journal between you and God. Date entries, and don’t forget to later note the dates your prayers are answered, keeping a record of how God faithfully meets your needs.
Start today to give prayer a place of priority in your daily schedule. God will bless you for it.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals on faith, personal growth, and moving through and beyond difficult life circumstances. Her books include: Life On Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H Publishing Group). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.
Candy’s new book, Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well, provides insights on learning from and growing through a time of waiting.
Join the conversation: What do you do to keep focused in prayer?