When it’s time to pray, are you ever at a loss for words?
Or do you always say the same thing?
My prayers at dinnertime consist mostly of thank-yous to God. I realized this recently when my son started asking to say the prayer, and everything he said was a thank-you for this and thank you for that.
Gratitude is great! We need more thank-yous, not less!
But I realized the prayers my children were hearing were not well-rounded. And since my 2-year-old is mimicking everything I do, I should model a good prayer life.
As a side note, my son has been following my format for prayers – but not my actual prayers. I, for one, have never thanked God for “Dumbo”. But my kid has. Ha!
The prayer outline
Here’s the prayer outline that I have come back to throughout my life: A.C.T.S.
We can use this acronym to remind us of four important parts of a well-rounded prayer life.
A is for Adoration
God is amazing! Everyday we should express our wonder and awe at the Creator-Redeemer God. Contemplate Jesus for a few minutes, and it’s likely you can think of a few things to praise God about. If you’re still struggling for words, use some Scripture (Psalms is a good place to look) and just read it out to God. You can also use words from worship songs!
Psalm 95:6 – O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
C is for Confession
Whether we have blatantly sinned in the past day or have been complacent or selfish … whatever it may be, we’ve likely missed the mark. As a parent, I have to often confess my lack of patience. Following Jesus means acknowledging our wrongdoing, turning away from it, and seeking to be full of grace and truth.
Psalm 51:1 – Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions.
T is for Thanksgiving
All good things in life come from God. Thanking God for the good we experience and what we have reminds us of that truth. It’s easy to take the little things for granted. We have much to be thankful for. Even when life seems like to be going terribly, we still can thank Jesus for coming to save us and show us what love is.
Psalm 106:1 – O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.
S is for Supplication
This is a fancy word for prayer requests. Do you desire – safety, healing, finances, help with …. whatever? God cares about the details of our lives. God wants to guide and intervene. God waits on us to ask, and it brings him joy to cooperate with us through prayer. Ask for yourself, and ask on behalf of others.
Psalm 86:1 – Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
It would be a worthy goal to aim to pray each of those four things at least once a day, if not in every prayer. Pray a whole page worth of words for each of the four parts. Or pray just one sentence on each…
I adore you for ____.
I confess that I ____.
I thank you for ____.
I need your help with ____.
A. C. T. S. — it really helps!
This is my prayer today.
I adore you for being creative with the animals. Giraffes have such long necks! Anteaters have funny snouts. Kangaroos have pouches for their babies!
I confess that I have complained about things in my work and marriage when I should have had a better attitude.
I thank you for Costco’s $1.50 hot dog and soda deal. It may not be the healthiest meal, but it’s tasty, my kids eat it, and the price cannot be beat!
I need your help with prioritizing the important things and letting go of the rest.
In Jesus’ name, Amen!
Question for you: Have you learned anything about your own prayer life through the prayers that your children have said?