How can I improve my prayer life?
Christian prayer happens when a believer communicates with God, often by speaking or thinking. Prayer is essential to Christian growth. Here are some suggestions regarding Christian prayer.
UNDERSTAND THE TIMES AND TYPES OF PRAYER
- Morning—Morning is a good time to thank the Lord for helping you make it through the night. This prayer is my longest and most devotional prayer. I use the ACTS formula, which we will discuss below.
- Meals—Before every meal, we should thank the Lord and ask Him to bless the food we are about to eat. A long prayer with bowed head and closed eyes is not necessary, especially if we are hungry!
- Bedtime—Before you retire for the evening, thank the Lord for another day. I often pray a shorter version of the ACTS formula that we will discuss later. I like to get on my knees, bow my head, and close my eyes in total submission to God.
- Worship—In the worship service, you should pray silently while others are leading you in prayer. In some churches, people are asked to pray out loud and all together; sometimes they read a prayer together.
- Trouble—In times of trouble, we tend to move past “saying prayers” to actually praying. Thankfully, God is able to hear us all at the same time and work things out for our good.
- Special occasions—When big decisions need to be made or when you simply feel like praying, pray. When someone asks you to pray for them, pray.
THE ACTS FORMULA
The ACTS acronym will help to galvanize your prayers with the following four elements:
Adoration—Christian prayer should express to God that you are aware that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Acknowledge that the Lord has brought you this far; you have not gotten here by yourself.
Confession—Tell God that you have sinned. Name some sins that come to mind. Tell Him that you are sorry. Ask Him to forgive you through Jesus.
Thanksgiving—Thank God for the many blessings He has given you. Thank Him for food, clothing, and shelter. Thank Him for life, health, and strength. Thank Him for protecting you from things and people that might hurt you.
Supplication—Ask God to supply the needs of others; this is called intercessory prayer. Ask God to bless your pastor and your church. Ask God to bless your family and loved ones. Even ask God to bless those who create stress in your life. And then ask God to meet your needs. Ask Him to fix what is broken and smooth out the rough places. Most of all, ask God to have His way in your life. When God has His way, He will always do what is best for His people.
Sometimes I switch things up and pray using the ATCS model. I start with adoration and thanksgiving and close with confession and supplication. Sometimes, after I finish adoring God, thanking Him, and confessing to Him, I feel almost ashamed to ask Him for anything else.
Prayer is personal, and you can pray in whatever way is most comfortable for you; however, the ACTS method can be a very helpful guide.