Five ACTS(B) of Prayer

Starters for Conversation with God.

Have you ever had a conversation and found yourself at a loss for words? Perhaps someone approached you, and the words were right there on the tip of your tongue and they wouldn’t come out. It might have even happened when you were introduced to a new person.

Maybe, you got to a certain point and you didn’t know where to go, or maybe you felt it wasn’t going anywhere.

How frustrating.

How embarrassing.

What do you do then?

There are times when that has happened in my conversations with God, with my prayer time. And yes, it can be frustrating. But even worse it can be scary, worrisome, tedious and tiring. God invites us into prayer and we have NOTHING! We encounter God in the invitation, we acknowledge God’s invitation, but when we try to respond, we fall silent.

But do we? Do we really have nothing??

No, we have lots to bring to prayer, but just like in writing, sometimes we need a little help. In writing, when I’m stuck, I use a variety of writing prompts.

I do the same thing with prayer. When I’m stuck I look to the five ACTS(B) of prayer to help me, to prompt me, and then, off I go.

You ask, “What is ‘ACTS(B)?”

It’s an acronym that reflects five major themes of prayer that I have expanded to prayer prompts over time: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication and Blessing.

I have found these prompts particularly helpful in jump-starting my conversations with God. And if saying these things is difficult, perhaps using writing as a form of prayer, like a prayer journal, may prove very helpful.

Adoration

Taken from the Latin and Old French the word simply means to pray (ad orare).

Here it really means to praise and worship God for being God. It can also be to acknowledge and admire God’s attributes. I find that repeating one or a couple of these can often spring me into another part of prayer.

  • God, I love you.
  • God, I praise you.
  • God, I worship you.
  • Lord, you are holy.
  • Lord, you are love.
  • Sometimes hymns of praise here can help as well.

 

Confession

While certainly this can refer to the Sacrament of Forgiveness, confession really means to freely admit things that are true. There have been many times when I have found that making a “confession” or profession helps me get past a blockage in my prayer. Here are some of the prayer prompts that I have used.

  • Lord, I’m so sorry, I messed up…
  • Lord, I’m stressed out by…
  • Lord, I’m worried about…
  • Lord, I’m so angry right now…
  • Lord, I’m so angry at you right now…
  • Lord, I’m lost…
  • Lord, I don’t know what to pray…
  • Lord, I’m so tired right now…
  • Lord, I’m overwhelmed…

It may also be that some of these prayer prompts will then spill over to become prayers of supplication, which I will go over below.

Thanksgiving

We must be willing to express our gratitude to God for the blessings, grace, and mercy that we have received.

  • Thank you for this new day…
  • Thank you for getting me through this day…
  • Thank you for my wife/husband./children…
  • Thank you for my job (even when you’re struggling to be grateful)
  • Thank you for this new opportunity…
  • Thank you for my family…
  • Thank you that you spared us from…
  • Thank you for the food on the table…
  • Thank you for the beauty of…
  • Thank you for sending help in the way of…
  • Thank you for my health…

I have found that when I cannot come up with a single thing to be thankful for, it is probably because I am taking too many things for granted. If it is not that then it’s because I have been tuned into the bad things going on around me.

Here a gratitude journal works very well. Start by trying to find two or three things to be grateful for. Soon you will be surprised at how many good things are happening to you each day.

Supplication

Supplication is perhaps the most common of the prayer forms. In it we find ourselves asking God for something. The challenge is three-fold: Do we submit to God’s will? Am I clear as to whether what I am asking for is a want or a need? Am I focused on myself, or am I seeking the good of another. As such, I’ve learned that I need to have prayer prompts that shift my focus a little.

  • God, if this request aligns with your will for me… (this should always be part of our prayer of supplication)
  • God, please help me to see this issue clearly…
  • God, for the sake of my friend, family…
  • God, please protect…
  • God, watch over…
  • God, healing is needed…
  • God, open my mind, heart…
  • God, send comfort and consolation to…

When we pray for others in supplication, we call that intercessory prayer – we are intervening for others with God. It is important to take our eyes off ourselves. I have also learned that when I honestly pray for someone I have had trouble with or with whom I’m angry, I cannot stay mad at them…I can’t change them, but God can change me.

Blessing

Blessing invokes God’s presence and goodness on another person. In truth, Blessing is a particular form of Supplication. While objects may also be blessed, the prayer is always that the God will move within us as we use that object. Here are a couple ways I use blessings. The prompts are not quite the same here.

  • May God bring you back safely to me
  • May God guide you in your travels
  • May God grant you peace and rest
  • May the Lord of the Cross lift your sufferings…
  • May God provide for all your needs

Amen

In the end, we will likely find that our prayer seldom rests squarely within one of these themes of prayer, but being aware of them may help our prayer life grow. Moreover, you may find, as I did, that in looking to these themes there may be one area or theme we may have neglected…not necessarily on purpose.

May your prayer life increase and bring you a greater connection to the One who has called you into communion with Him. Amen.

 

Published by

Larry Duffany

Larry is first and foremost a husband and father, married for more than 20 years to his wife Janet, they make their home with their two children, Hannah and Gabriel in Thomaston, CT. A career Catholic school educator, Larry has taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. He currently serves as the Chair of the Religion Department at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, Connecticut. In addition to his full-time teaching, Larry also facilitates adult faith formation courses for the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF) at the University of Dayton and is an adjunct instructor at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut. In his spare time, Larry volunteers with Thomaston Volunteer Ambulance Corps where he is an EMT and a member of their training team.

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