A simple template for those learning, or re-learning, how to pray
“Pray like this…”-Jesus, Matthew 6:9
A long time ago someone came up with a little acronym device to assist new believers learning to pray. It was loosely based on the passage in Matthew 6, where Jesus gave his disciples some basic how-to’s on prayer (a.k.a. the Lord’s prayer).
The acronym spells A.C.T.S. and it stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. The idea is that a well-rounded prayer should consist of each of these elements and A.C.T.S. helps you transition from one part of the conversation to the next.
That is, you go from praising God to confessing your sin. Then you give God thanks for who He is and what He’s doing before finally, you ask for His help and make your requests. It’s kind of like you’re taking a tour of a 4-room house, spending a little time in each room before moving to the next one.
The A.C.T.S. acronym is a helpful tool to get you started in your prayer life. Many of us learned to pray this way.
But perhaps at this point we could recommend adding one more letter?
There is a growing amount of research today in the social sciences indicating how healthy it is to express what you are feeling to God when you pray. It may come as a surprise, but it is absolutely acceptable to share with God not just your good thoughts and feelings, but your dark and difficult ones, too. If you need an example of this, check out some of the Psalms written by David.
With this in mind, here’s an idea. Maybe we could add an “F” for feelings at the beginning, so that the acronym changes from A.C.T.S. to F.A.C.T.S. By adding an F, we build into our prayer template an opportunity to share with God what’s going on with our thoughts and feelings, whether they’re bright and cheery, or not so much. As it turns out, emotional honesty before God is highly therapeutic.
So, what’s the 5 x 2 prayer? The 5 x 2 prayer is the F.A.C.T.S. acronym with 2 minutes (or so) allotted for each of the five rooms, or each section of your prayer. By the way, there’s nothing magical about two minutes…God doesn’t keep a stopwatch. It’s just a place to begin, a simple starting point.
Need help getting going? Okay, here we go… “Dear Heavenly Father, right now I’m feeling…”
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.