Have you ever watched an athlete that excelled at one aspect of a game? A basketball player who can play great defense but couldn’t shoot, dribble, or pass? An offensive lineman who can run block and not pass block? Or perhaps a volleyball player who can bump but fails at setting, spiking, and serving? Each of these situations is likely to end in disaster throughout each game played. The basketball player will dribble the ball off his leg out of bounds, pass it to the other team, and take a shot that lands in the upper deck of the stands. The offensive lineman will miss his block, allowing his quarterback to get drilled and likely lose the football by the 4th or 5th time he is forced to eat dirt. And the volleyball player will set the ball to un-hittable places, spike the ball into the net, and serve the ball straight into the net. In sports, we recognize a need to have competency and ability at each level of the game. As a well-rounded player, I can be an effective teammate that is a tremendous asset instead of a liability. Just as we need to work hard to be balanced as athletes, we need to work hard to have balance in our prayer life.
Jesus taught us much about prayer; He even gave us an example of what quality prayer looks like. In Matthew 6, Jesus said this:
Pray then like this:
9“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
When we talk about the A.C.T.S. Prayer, we need to recognize that its principles are drawn from this passage. In verse 9, we see Adoration. "Hallowed by Your name," meaning, may Your name remain holy. May people look to You and know that You are more significant, set apart, of a different nature. Then verse 10, we see a blend of thanksgiving and continued Adoration. Why do we want God's kingdom and will to be done on earth like it is in heaven? Because God is holy. There is no sin in Him or wrong of any kind. We long for that in our own world; we long for Him to rule in the same way. Thanksgiving is here because we believe His promise that His kingdom will come and He will rule here one day. So with thankful hearts, we look forward to that day. Verse 11-13 is all supplication. It is making requests of God. God, would you take care of our needs today? God, would you forgive us of our sin? Also, helping us to learn to forgive others. God give us strength and courage to not give in to temptation. Keep us, deliver us from evil. And of course, verse 12 is making a request, but it is a specific form of a request that comes with admission; this is confession. Confession of the sin I have committed against God that I need forgiveness for in my life.
In all of this, we see that Jesus teaches us to be balanced in our prayer life. That we should take time to adore and recognize the significance of God. We should also spend equal amounts of time confessing our sins and seeking forgiveness. We should express thankfulness for His many blessings, the forgiveness of sin, and promises of what the future holds. God also wants us to ask of Him. That we would ask for our needs to be met, that we would pray for other people and that our own hearts would stay in line with His. So the question is, "How balanced is your prayer life?"
Let us go back to Hebrews 1:1-4. Read over these verses four or five times. Consider a different part of the A.C.T.S. prayer each time you read it.
1st time you read it, ask, "How can this teach me to adore God?"
2nd time you read, “Is there anything about confession here?” and “What do you need to confess to God?”
3rd time you read, “What here should inspire thankfulness in me towards God?”
4th time you read, “based on what I have learned here, what do I want to ask of God?”