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).
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.
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 6:5a). The confession of our sin removes any barriers and clears the air of anything that would cause God not to hear our prayers.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us …. “ (1 John 1:9)
If we ask God to show us our hearts, He will do it. Perhaps not immediately, but over time and in His own way, the Lord will pull back the curtains of denial and show us ourselves. And He will take good care of us while He’s doing it.
Our immediate response after confession is thanksgiving. We should be thankful that God would indeed cleanse and forgive us. David said, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven.” (Psalm 32:1a)
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 love endures forever.”
By giving thanks, which is simply expressing gratitude for what we have, we prevent our focus from shifting to what we do not have.
When is the last time you used the term “supplication” in your daily speech? Supplication means that if we are faithful in the first three steps, the last step will not degenerate into some spiritual shopping list.
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)
Pray the Bible. Prayer is not merely what we say to God. It is responding thoughtfully to what He has already said and what He is constantly saying to us through His Word. For this reason, the Bible is an important part of our ongoing conversation with the Lord.