The Bible identifies several different types of prayers we can pray. One model for how we should pray is captured in the acrostic A.C.T.S. Each letter stands for a specific aspect of prayer, arranged in a very natural order.
A: Adoration (Worship)
C: Confession (Of Specific Sins)
T: Thanksgiving (Gratitude)
S: Supplication (Specific Requests)
Adoration: Jesus essentially taught us the same thing in the Lord’s Prayer, which begins, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name” (Matthew 6:9). This puts things in perspective for us. A good example of this type of adoration is found in Psalm 95:1-7. When we take time to praise and worship God in our prayers, we are placing God where He rightfully belongs. As a result, our problems and needs come into their proper perspective.
Confession: The closer we draw to God, the more we sense our own sinfulness. When Isaiah came into God’s presence, he said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5). The confession of our sin removes any barriers and clears the air of anything that would cause God not to hear our prayers. As 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us . . . ” This is, once again, modeled in the Lord’s Prayer. After “Our Father who art in heaven,” we find, “Forgive us our sins” (Matthew 6:12).
Thanksgiving: Our immediate response after confession is thanksgiving. We should be thankful that God would indeed cleanse and forgive us. Should we give thanks because everything is going perfectly in our lives or because we are in a good mood? No, we should give thanks because God deserves our praise. Psalm 118:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For his mercy endures forever.” As another translation puts it, “His love endures forever.” By giving thanks, or simply expressing gratitude for what we have, we prevent our focus from shifting to what we do not have.
Supplication: If we are faithful in the first three steps, the last step will not degenerate into some spiritual shopping list. Too often in prayer, we cut to the chase instead of spending time in adoration, confession, and thanksgiving first. Yet, God does want to hear our needs and requests. Scripture tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6-7). We are also promised, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:l9).
Do not neglect this vital part of your Christian walk. As someone has said, “Prayer is the breath of the newborn soul, and there can be no Christian life without it.”