by Dr. Joshua Wilson
One of Charles Spurgeon’s popular quotes on prayer is “Some brethren pray by the yard, but true prayer is measured by weight—not by length. A single groan before God may have more fullness of prayer in it than a fine oration of great length.” There certainly are times of extreme circumstance where in joy or pain we are moved to come before God groaning with weighty prayers. But what about all the other times when there are no extreme circumstances driving us into a state of prayer? How in those times can we be moved to come before the Throne of Glory, a weighty place, with weighty prayers?
One way of praying weighty prayers is to use the Bible. In his book Praying the Bible, Don Whitney teaches the time-tested method of opening the Bible and praying God’s own words back to Him. He teaches his readers how to pray through individual psalms, epistles, and even narratives. (In one of the appendices, He even provides a “Psalms of the Day” chart to aid his readers in daily Psalm-praying.) Praying the Bible does not add our weight to our prayers, but His weight to our prayers. Thus, I would like to share a similar strategy of using the Bible with another model of prayer known as the A.C.T.S. method.
Obviously, A.C.T.S. is an acronym. The A stands for “Adoration,” the C stands for “Confession,” the T stands for “Thanksgiving,” and the S stands for “Supplication.” The acronym of the A.C.T.S. model is a helpful guide for individual and corporate prayers. In the A.C.T.S. method, the prayer moves from praising God to confessing to Him to thanking Him, and then to petitioning Him with a list of needs and concerns. This model of praying can be used to even greater effect when all the parts of the A.C.T.S. prayer are focused upon a single topic, and each of those parts is informed by the scriptures. Let me give you a corporate example of this method in its entirety.
In our prayer meetings at FBC Park Hills, we usually focus on one big need. This is the S of the A.C.T.S. prayer method: supplication. This may seem backward, but it helps give direction to the other portions of the prayer: adoration, confession, and thanksgiving. In our most recent prayer meeting, our focus was on the nation and our concerns for it: the election, abortion, marriage, religious liberty, etc. With our one focus, we then go to the scriptures to give direction and weight to each part of our A.C.T.S. prayer.
- A With respect to the A (adoration) of the A.C.T.S. acronym, we search for the scriptures that speak to our focus: the nation. What does the Bible say about who God is and what He does in relation to the nations? God sits enthroned as King over them all (Psalm 22:8; Psalm 47:7-8). He demonstrates His kingship over the nations by creating them and apportioning their boundaries (Acts 17:26) and by raising them up and bringing them down (Job 12:23). He places as rulers over the nations whomever He desires and there is none who can keep Him from doing so (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32, 34-35). Moreover, He turns the hearts of those rulers to wherever He will (Exodus 7:3-4; Proverbs 21:1). With these scriptures in hand, we read and meditated upon them. Then a designated person prays a prayer of adoration that was informed by these passages from the Bible.
- C With respect to the C (confession) of the A.C.T.S. acronym, we again search for the scriptures that speak to our focus: the nation. (Keep in mind that adoration is upward focused, and confession is inward focused though still informed by the upward focus of adoration.) What does the Bible say about the nations in relation to what God has revealed about himself? Nations defile themselves before the Holy God, so He punishes them and their lands vomit them out (Leviticus 18:24-25). Rulers of the nations lead their people into sin provoking the Lord to anger (1 Kings 16:1-2). Nations and their rulers conspire and plot to throw off Christ’s rule over them prompting the Lord to laugh in derision at them and then rebuke them in wrath and fury (Psalm 2). Nations that are in rebellion to the reign and rule of Christ, build their house and watch over it in vain (Psalm 127:1). Ultimately, through the influence of Satan, the nations will unite together against the Lord prompting Christ to strike them down with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 19:15). Again, with these scriptures in hand, we read and meditated upon them. Then another designated person prays a prayer of confession that was informed by these passages from the Bible.
- T Finally, with respect to the T (thanksgiving) of the A.C.T.S. acronym, we again search for the scriptures that speak to our focus: the nation. What does the Bible also say about God’s gracious and merciful response to the nations? God relents from the disaster he has planned for nations when they repent (Jonah 3:4-10). If He has already brought disaster upon a nation, God will heal them if they turn to Him (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). God promotes the welfare of a nation through His people who dwell in it and pray for it (Jeremiah 29:7). Through the seed of Abraham, who is Christ, God blesses all the nations of the earth (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16). Through the root of Jesse, who again is Christ, God stands as a banner to which the nations will inquire (Isaiah 11:10). In the age to come, God gives the nations access to the tree of life that they might be healed with its leaves (Revelation 22:2). Once more, with these scriptures in hand, we read and meditated upon them. Then a final, designated person prays a prayer of thanksgiving that was informed by these passages from the Bible.
- S When we get back to the S (supplication) portion of our corporate A.C.T.S. prayer, the opportunity to pray aloud to God is opened to anyone from the congregation. At this point, all of our minds have been engaged with and saturated by the scriptures. We now have the Words of God to pray back to Him. We now have His weight behind our prayers. We now appeal to God according to how He has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. We are basically saying, “Lord, because of what you have shown us in Your Word about who You are and what You’ve done and continue to do (insert petition here).” (cf. the prayer of Daniel in Daniel 9 and the prayer of the church in Acts 4).
Using the A.C.T.S. prayer model in this way has given a deeper sense of weightiness to our prayer meetings. At different times, we have used it to pray for the lost, our church, the persecuted church, and the community. It does take preparation and it does take time to search the scriptures, but if we want to add this kind of weight to our prayers we must do the work to search the Bible and come to know the weight of the God to whom we are praying. I would like to encourage you to try this model either individually or corporately. Start by using the topic of the nation and the scriptures passages of the Bible in this article. Read the scripture passages and meditate upon them before praying each part of the A.C.T.S. prayer. I believe you will sense the increased weight of your prayers and the increased weightiness of your prayer time.
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