Psalm 32:6 – Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. (NRSV)
I have talked to many people who say that while God is the first person to Whom they turn for comfort and for help in bad times, they have a harder time remembering to thank God for all of the good in their lives. When something goes right for them, they don't attribute it to God's grace or goodness. They assume it's because of their own hard work or "good luck". And as for praying as a form of worship, well, most people don't even think of prayer in that way.
A long time ago — so long ago that I don't even remember who — someone taught me a way to pray that can help us to remember different ways we need to be praying to God. It is called the "ACTS" form of prayer, for Acclamation (or Adoration), Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. The prayer begins with a time of acclamation — praising God and offering our love to God. Next comes a confession of sins — whatever we feel we've done to offend God or our loved ones. Then follows a time of giving thanks to God for the blessings in our lives — giving God credit for being active in our lives during good times as well as bad ones. And finally, we come to supplication — asking God for what we need and for what the people around us need.
Now this doesn't mean that those "arrow" prayers that we make sometimes — the "Thank You, God, that I avoided that car wreck!" or "God, please help me out of this mess!" — are wrong. We all throw up prayers to God that are immediate to our needs and are fresh in the moments of our lives. And that's okay, because God hears those prayers. But having a framework to build our prayer time around can help enrich and expand our faith and increase our connection to God.
Prayer: God, help us to remember all of the ACTS of prayer: worshipping You, asking Your forgiveness, thanking You, and asking for Your help, so that we may have a richer relationship with You. Amen.
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