Having a healthy prayer life is a bit like having a healthy diet – the key is to aim for a healthy balance. ACTS offers us a simple template for balanced prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
You can use the ACTS template if you have just a few minutes to pray, or as you commute to work, or as a way of ordering longer times of personal prayer. It’s also a great way to teach children how to pray.
Adortation: Recognise the beauty and majesty of God, and tell God that you love him. You can to this in your own words, or by reading a prayer, or in song.
Short prayer of adoration by King David: I Chronicles 29:11-12
Prayer of Adoration by the Blessed Virgin Mary: The Magnificat
A prayer by St Richard of Chichester (1197-1253): Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits you have given to me, for all the pains and insults you have borne for me. O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother, may I know you more clearly, love you more dearly, follow you more nearly, day, by day. Amen.
Confession: Call to mind times when you have failed to love God with all your heart or have failed to love your neighbour as yourself. Confess to God your sins of though, word, deed, or omission and ask him to forgive you.“In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide You from myself, not myself from You.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)
St John encourages us to seek God’s forgiveness: I John 1:9
A prayer of confession written by King David: Psalm 130
A canticle confessing sin: The Prayer of Manasseh
A form of confession: Almighty God, long-suffering and of great goodness: I confess to you, I confess with my whole heart my neglect and forgetfulness of your commandments, my wrong doing, thinking, and speaking; the hurts I have done to others, and the good I have left undone. O God, forgive me, for I have sinned against you; and raise me to newness of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
An ancient prayer to be preserved from sin: O Lord, who has mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of Your Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore You, a heart to delight in You, to follow and to enjoy You, for Christ’s sake. (St Ambrose of Milan, 337-397)
Hymn: Amazing Grace
Choral Anthem: Remember not, Lord, our offences – words by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer set to music by Henry Purcell
Thanksgiving: Give time to listing some of the many gifts God has given you, and express thanks to God.
Thanksgiving means calling to mind the truth which we so often forget – that all we have and are is a gift from God. It means letting go of the fiction that we are self-made.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)
Hymn: Now thank we all our God
Worship Song: Blessed be your name
A prayer of thanksgiving by King David: 1 Chronicles 16:7-36
A prayer of thanksgiving for when you feel far from God: Psalm 13
A General Thanksgiving: Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
Supplication means asking for God’s blessing.
St Paul urges us to pray for the Church: Ephesians 6:18
– pray for the welfare of the Church of England and of the church across the world
– pray for clergy, for lay leaders, and for the church’s synods and councils
– pray for persecuted Christians
– pray that God will protect his People and fill them with faith, love and hope
St Paul urges us to pray for those in authority: I Timothy 2:1-2
– pray for the Queen
– pray for those who govern us and for those who make our laws
– pray for those in authority across the world
– pray for justice and mercy in your life and in the lives of others
St Peter urges us to bring to God all our concerns: I Peter 5:7
– bring to God your concerns and your worries
– ask God to bless those you love and to turn the hearts of any who wish you harm
– pray for those who are unwell, especially those in hospital or in their last illness
– pray that God will bring all his People to the fulness of joy in his eternal presence
Taizé chant: O Lord, hear my prayer
Hymns of intercession: And now, O Father, mindful of the love
O God, the Creator and Preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially, we pray for the good estate of the Catholick Church; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those, who are any ways afflicted, or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; Especially those for whom, our prayers are desired, that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them, according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ his sake. Amen.