Since moving several states away from my hometown, I’ve missed a lot. I’m not only referring to the emotion of missing some place or something or someone. I’m also talking about the actual act of missing out. I’m simply not there for birthday parties or marriage proposals; funerals or break-ups. Perhaps even worse, I’m not there to go to happy hour, get a manicure, tan at the pool, or see to a movie. I hate missing those moments, both big and small, good and bad, that make a close friendship.
I want to be a part of everything for my closest friends. I want to celebrate the triumphs and mourn the disappointments. I want to encourage and help; to challenge and push.
I want that sort of intimacy with Christ as well, and Christ wants that sort of intimacy with me.
Prayer in general, and the ACTS formula in particular, helps me form that relationship with Him. This prayer of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication helps me share everything with Christ. The big and small, the good and bad. It also invites Him to celebrate and mourn with me, to encourage and challenge me.
Over the next month, each Wednesday, I will reflect on each component of the ACTS prayer in more detail. My hope is that, by examining each piece in more detail, we can all practice the prayer more thoughtfully and effectively.
We begin, of course, at the beginning, with adoration.
Adore, according to the dictionary, is “to regard with the utmost esteem, love, and respect; honor.”
The Psalmist adored God when he said, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;/ his greatness is unsearchable” (145: 3; NRSV). Jesus adored God when he said, “Our Father in heaven,/ hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9; NRSV). I adore God when I say, “Good and gracious God” or “God, you are all-powerful, all-beautiful, all-wonderful.”
We adore God because He, as an all-loving and all-mighty being, deserves of our adoration. We adore God for the same reason we say, “I love you” to our spouses or “you are amazing” to our parents. We want them to know how deeply we care for them. We want God to know deeply we care for Him.
This adoration, however, also has a profound effect on us.
First, adoration drags my attention away from myself. Usually, when I sit down to pray, my instinct is not to say “good and gracious God,” but “woe is poor, pitiful me.” My own fears and desires consume me. I so often place myself, not God, at the center of my thoughts. If not for the act of adoration, I would also place myself at the center of my prayer to God.
Second, adoration reminds me exactly with whom I am speaking. In prayer, I am not speaking with my therapist, my mom, my girlfriend, or my husband. I am speaking with God Himself. This reminder isn’t meant to intimidate me; it is meant to encourage me. Yes, God is the Creator of the Universe. And, yes, He want to be part of every part of my life.
Finally, adoration prepares me for the other components of the prayer. When I appreciate the greatness of God, I am more inclined to recognize and confess my sins to him; I am more eager to acknowledge my blessings and thank him for them; I am more willing to ask Him not just for the small things but the miraculous.
I have missed a lot since I moved away from my hometown. I am not there for all the baby showers, the tumultuous romances, or the late-night ice cream runs. I cling, then, to every phone call, postcard, and text message. I may be far away from my closest friends, but I still want to be part of every part of their lives.
So, it is with our God. He desires that intimacy with us. Through our confession, our thanksgiving, our supplication, we invite Him to know us. Through adoration, however, He invites us to know him. And, that God, as the Psalmist would say, is “greatly to be praised.”
Join us next week to explore the Thanksgiving component of the ACTS prayer.