Prayer is simply talking to God. Whether you’ve been a Christian for many years or you are just exploring the idea of following Jesus, it doesn’t have to be hard to pray. There isn’t a magic formula that makes Him to listen to you. But if you need some ideas for how to get started, or you’ve been praying for a long time and it feels stale, consider one of the following ideas or frameworks to help you focus on talking to God.
ACTS is a simple acronym to guide your prayer time.
A stands for Adoration—This is a time to praise God for who He is. If you don’t know Him well yet, that’s ok. What about Him is intriguing? Tell Him why you are interested.
C stands for Confession—All people make mistakes and hurt others. God knows every word you’ve said and thing you’ve done, and He loves you anyway. So, tell Him about what you have done and that you are sorry or even that you wish you were sorry.
T stands for Thanksgiving—Thank Him for the good things in your life. If you are breathing, you have at least one thing to be thankful for. If you want a challenge, thank Him for the hard things in your life too.
S stands for Supplication—This word means you can ask God for things you need or ask for Him to intervene for you or a friend or family member.
The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus’ best friends and followers here on earth asked Him how they should pray. He gave them a short prayer that covers a lot of ground. Perhaps you were raised to say this prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. There is beauty in saying it how it has been translated in the Bible, but you can also take each phrase and put it into your own words as you talk to God.
Writing out your prayers can help you stay focused. For many people, journaling helps them work out what they are thinking and feeling as they write a letter to God. All you need is a paper and a pen to get started.
Use the alphabet to praise God for who He is. Start with A… God is amazing! Maybe another word comes to mind. As you talk to God about who He is, you might find that a word you pick needs explanation or it doesn’t fit as well as you first thought it might. If you need to skip a letter, go ahead. For X, pick a word that has an X in it. Focusing on God’s character can help us grow to trust Him more.
The Bible is full of instructions and promises; it covers the gamut of human emotions. God uses the Bible to speak to us, so use that as your starting point for talking with Him. Choose a Psalm or another verse you are familiar with and say it back to God. Take John 3:16 and make it into a prayer using your own words. Here is an example.
God, you love the world. Sometimes I don’t love it, but I want to because You do. You sacrificed your Son in order to save the world. Thanks for choosing to do that. Whoever believes in Jesus can have eternal life. I believe that you sent Jesus to die for the world, including me. I believe in You, so I know that I can look forward to being with you forever.
God wants a relationship with you! So, talk to Him. Silently in your head, instead of your own internal dialog, talk to Him. Or pray out loud in the car or while you are washing dishes or anywhere you are. God is both powerful and approachable. He will take your every attempt at prayer and help you grow in your relationship with Him.