Adoration and Praise
The mnemonic ACTS helps us to remember a number of the important elements in praying - Adoration (or Praise), Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (including intercession, our prayers for others, and petition, our prayers for ourselves).
Adoration and Praise
In Hebrews 11.6 we read, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Some folk have an almost superstitious view of prayer, as if it is an important daily ritual that will keep things right. But in prayer we are actually coming to the real God who is there. He is waiting for us to come to him and waiting to answer our prayers.
We begin with adoration or praise. Reflect on who God is - and say so! Some folk talk casually about "the bloke upstairs" - this doesn’t really show understanding of the Person to whom we are praying.
Often the words of one of the Psalms can help us express our adoration. For example, spend time reflecting on Psalm 95. Then use the words of the Psalm as a starting-point for your own words of adoration - "Lord, I come to you with joy. You are the Rock of my salvation. You are great. I see your handiwork in ocean and mountains, in flower and tree, bird and beast... Lord, it’s incredible that you actually care about human beings - that you care about me. Yet it’s true!..."
Reading Isaiah 6.1-8, we see that it was the awareness of who God is - including the praise of the seraphs - that then led the prophet to confession of sin. Adoration or praise isn’t just the "correct" beginning for prayer - it leads us on to confession, thanksgiving and supplication.
Often our group prayer has moved directly into supplication - our requests for others’ and our own needs.We need to begin our time together with adoration - being still in the presence of God (Psalm 46.10), praising the majesty, power and love of the one to whom we come, acknowledging that we are coming as children to our heavenly Father.
One way to begin doing this "conversationally" is to spend a few moments, allowing each member of the group to identify a suitable favourite verse in one of the Psalms. Then share the verses and personalise them as our own offering of adoration and praise to the Lord.