ACTS is another and very well known prayer schema.
It's a really helpful way to organise one's prayer life, praying one's way through that list, and it ensures that prayer doesn't degenerate into a whiny, needy shopping list. I have used it often, although not slavishly or exclusively.
But as I listened to Tim Keller's sermon on prayer at the pool I was delighted to learn of a new way to use this schema. He described using ACTS as a means of meditating on Scripture. He suggests taking a short passage of Scripture and then, having read through it a handful of times, pray through it using ACTS.
The very next day I was reading Matthew chapter 22, which includes these famous verses:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
And I decided to have a go.
Adoration - what a GREAT God we have, that He is worthy to be loved with all our heart, soul and mind, and that he gives us people (neighbours) to love. And what a great God that He gave us Jesus.
Confession - DO I love Him with all my heart, soul and mind? And do I love my neighbour (and I started with my own family) as I love myself? There was plenty to confess there - we were well into the long school holidays by then! This section probably took me the longest.
Thanksgiving - for a God who forgives, for a God who invites us to be in relationship with Him and to love Him with all our heart, soul and strength, for a vast array of neighbours to love, that those I love also have big hearts to forgive me when I don't love them as well or as fully as I should.
Supplication - for a bigger heart, capacity and desire to love God with all my heart, soul and mind and to love my neighbour as myself, and for new and creative ways in which to do this.
I have had some good times of "meditating on Scripture" in the past but generally I either don't do it or when I do try, find myself floundering or distracted pretty quickly. I found this use of ACTS profoundly helpful - I think it will be a very useful tool as I learn how to pray in God's will without distraction and am looking forward to applying it to many other passages from the Bible.