How to Pray Effectively

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

Prayer can be an amazing thing for you when it is done effectively. However, many do not understand that prayer is not always answered. God is not a cosmic ATM that doles out whatever you ask for when you push the prayer button. Prayer can still have a lot of power, however, to help you reconsider the world as it pertains to God's will, to better accept the things that have happened that you didn't want, and to recognize all the wonders of divine creation that abound. One method of prayer to try, which will help you to do all of this, is praying with ACTS. This stands for Adoration, Contrition, Testimony and Supplication. Here is how it works:

Adoration
Begin all prayer with your love for God. Tell him of his power, holiness, and goodness. Let him know of the wonders that he has created, and the place that he has in your heart and life. All things that you do are possible with God's power. Recognize this in your prayer introduction.

Contrition/Confession
This is where you prostrate yourself before God. Let him know that you are a sinner (we all are) who is nothing without his grace and glory. Confess your sins, and let God know that you are powerless without his power and understanding. As you raise God to the heavens in your words and view, also be sure to kneel low, and recognize that your talent, strength and power come from heaven alone. You can also do acts of contrition here, where you give back to the community in an attempt to atone for your sins. You are forgiven already, through Christ's sacrifice, but acting in contrition can put your spirit into a powerfully thankful place.

Testimony/Thanksgiving
This is the point where you thank God for the wonders that he has brought into your life. Thank him for his gifts to you-- your family, your health, your job, talents, and love of life are all possible topics. This is a chance to understand how much God has already given to you, which can create a different attitude before you ask for even more. It is saying thank you before you ask please once more.

Supplication
This is the part where you ask for what you want. The best way to give a request, in prayer, is not to ask for a specific thing, but to bring your problems to God, and to ask that his will be done. You can also ask for strength, peace of spirit and understanding when it comes to difficulties in your life. Don't get too attached to any one outcome, either. If you mean what you say, God will give you strength, even when he doesn't give you the outcome you hoped for. Quite often, the long-term reason for it will be to give you something in your life that is even more valuable and enriching.

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