I wish ,when I was younger, that someone had given me some simple ways to approach prayer. So here is the first in a set of posts about just that!
The first is a simple way of focusing your thoughts and prioritising things right.
You use the word ACTS (the 4th book of the New Testament) as an acronym to help guide you. It works like this:-
- Take a quiet time when you will be alone and settle yourself (more on this in another post, but for now…) perhaps try breathing slowly in and out for one minute (which will seem like an eternity). Just focus on breathing.
- Start with A for Acclamation. In other words offering praise to the Trinity. It’s too easy to jump in with what we want and what we need or the world needs. Instead take some time to just be with God as you would if you met up with a friend before you get down to the nitty-gritty.
- C for Contrition. Acknowledge the things you’ve said, done, thought that you know weren’t right or that you feel weren’t right and say sorry to God. Yes, we all fall short, but the most important step on the road to changing, to humility and to accepting others is to try and look at yourself more objectively in the light of God’s dream for who we can be.
- T for Thanks. Sometimes this will be hard, but there is almost always something we can thank God for and we should search for it if we can. If we can’t find it, we should just tell him that our hearts can’t find it. And leave it with him.
- S is for Supplication – Now, ask. Don’t be afraid to ask for things that seem odd, self-serving, counter to what your culture or society wants. The important thing is to acknowledge that you want these things. It can also reveal to you where your pain is. There are psalms in the Bible where the writer asks for terrible things to happen to their enemies. Acknowledging that we want something like that can reveal a good desire for justice behind our anger and it also stops the anger from festering while you pretend to God and yourself that you are a good little Christian without anger or hatred or bitterness or judgement.
- Thats it. Sign off. I usually end with ‘Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning and ever shall be, world without end. Amen’ but you can just say, ‘Goodbye.’ Whatever feels right, probably is.
Don’t worry about how short or long the process is, but do set aside at least 20 minutes at the start for it. You might find it extends out, but it’s not about quantity, it’s more about quality.