One Way To Pray

Praying is talking with God, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Jesus of course gave us His template in the Lord’s Prayer, but He did not simply repeat this prayer each time He prayed: He departed from that text in His prayer in Gethsemane, in His prayers on the cross, and so forth (you can easily find lists like this one by googling “prayers of Jesus”).

That said, I’ll share that in my own bedtime prayer I always begin with the Lord’s Prayer, and then proceed to go through the classic A-C-T-S list — that is, adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication, though the order I usually follow is C-S-A-T, as described below.

Lord’s Prayer: How can you go wrong by starting this way? It helps to put me into the right frame of mind.

Confession: I go through my sins of the day and ask forgiveness for them.

Supplication: I next list those concerns in my life for which that day I especially want God’s help, whether for myself, my family, my friends, my community, my country, or the world.

Adoration: I then go through the events of the day in which God has manifested Himself in ways that trigger adoration. The most recurrent ones are love (typically incidents with my family and friends), nature (wildlife, clouds, sunsets — all the incredible and literally awesome beauty), Creation’s complexity (perhaps this should be combined also with the “richness” of life), music (astonishing and inexplicable in its power), and laughter (also inexplicable and obviously joyful). I talk about adoration more at another post elsewhere on this blogsite here.

Thanksgiving: It’s simplest to start with the meals I’ve eaten. Next — and this may be a product of my getting older — I mentally go over myself physically, reminding myself that I could easily have more aches and pains than I do and should be thankful that I don’t (if I do have an ailment when I get to a body part, I switch back to supplication mode and ask for healing). Finally, I then go through the events of the day, which almost always reveals a series of blessings for which to be thankful.

I like this order, by the way, because it begins on a somber note and progresses to, and ends on, an uplifting one.