The A.C.T.S. of Prayer

Series: A Constant Sense


Pt.#2 – A Constant Sense

Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / July 05, 2015

John the baptizer flashed onto the scene in the days and months preceding the ministry of Jesus.

Lk.3:1-2 provides a historical backdrop for his arrival.

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,

and Herod the tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was a tetrarch of the region of Ituraea & Trachonitus

and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,

the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.

Vs.3 continues, saying:  …he came into all the district around the Jordan,

preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Vs.4 notes that the actions of John served to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord, make His path straight.

Vss.7-9 reveal John’s frankness & tenacity when confronting the corruption of the Jewish leaders of the first-century.

He therefore began saying to the multitudes who were going out to be baptized by him,

You brood of vipers, ‘who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?’

Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves,

‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree thatdoes not bear fruit is cut down & thrown into the fire.

The gospel according to Matthew (Mt.3:4) and Mark (Mk.1:6) give us a vivid mental image of John.

John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt about his waist and his diet was locusts & wild honey.

We also know that John was a man of humility. Mk.1:7 records John’s words about Jesus:

After me, One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie His sandals.

From the four gospel accounts we can safely conclude several things about John.

  He was sent by/from God.

  He was a dynamo and a firebrand (an instigator) - - and in many respects fearless.

  He was candid and straight-shooting and did not cower in the face of confrontation.

  He was powerful (mighty in word and deed).

  He was faithful & productive - - His words and actions moved many to repent and be baptized.

What we’re not told, except by innuendo, is that John was A MAN OF PRAYER.

We only know this from the words of Lk.11:1

It came about that while (Jesus) was praying in a certain place,

after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him,

‘Lord, TEACH US TO PRAY just as John also taught his disciples’.

At this juncture, we might be somewhat surprised to discover that Jesus’ disciples, who were reared in Judaism,

did not know how to pray.  Or at the very least, that they felt inadequate in their ability to pray.

I think this captures our own state of affairs. Many of us have been Christians for quite some time

and yet we still feel inept & deficient (sorely wanting) when it comes to praying as we ought.

Jesus responded to the unnamed disciples’ request, “teach us to pray”.

What follows is what is often called, “The Lord’s prayer” or, more appropriately, “The Model Prayer.”

I do not believe that Jesus meant that these specific words had to be uttered.

Our father who art in heaven is a good way to begin our prayer, but it is certainly the only way.

This model of prayer was not given with the notion that it was the only way to pray.

It must never become a vain repetition.

It is just a MODEL - - just an EXAMPLE of what a prayer ought to look like.

One of the first things we observe about this prayer is its brevity.

This model prayer that Jesus gave can be uttered in less that thirty seconds.

A prayer, like a sermon, doesn’t have to be everlasting in order to be eternal or Biblical.

In His sermon on the mount (Mt.6:7), Jesus alluded to (and criticized) the prayers of the Gentiles,

who employed meaningless repetition…for they suppose they will be heard for their many words.

  There is something to be said about public prayers that are short and to the point (likewise for sermons).

  When we draw near to the throne of grace we do not need to drone on and one.

  James Roosevelt once asked his father to give him some hints on “speech-making”.


Now, my intention is not to further intimidate those who lead our public prayers.

Praying in public is difficult enough without being concerned as to whether some one is timing you.

Again, as with a sermon, it is easier to be long-winded that it is to be concise.

We’ve all heard some who have apparently taken a very literal interpretation of Paul’s,  exhortation to

“pray without ceasing”.  The sentiment behind 1Thess.5:17 is not to pray LONG, but to pray OFTEN.

So the challenge before us is to think in advance about what we want to say and boil it down.

There’s a difference between pouring out our hearts and flying by the seat of our pants.

When it comes to praying in public, “winging it” is not the best rule of thumb.

Prayer is best when it is coupled with meditation and pre-meditation.

What you do in private - - “in your closet” - - may well be a different matter.

Jesus often prayed alone. And Lk.6:12 notes that on one occasion

(and perhaps numerous others unmentioned) Jesus “spent the whole night in prayer”.

I want to speak this morning about the A.C.T.S. of prayer with A.C.T.S. being an

acronym for Adoration … Confession … Thanksgiving … and Supplication (Please see the handout at the end of these notes)

These elements are all found in the model prayer.

? Clearly, “hallowed be Thy name” is an expression of praise and adoration.

? “Forgive us our debts/sins” is an expression of confession.

? And, “give us our daily bread” and “lead us not into temptation” are obviously supplications or requests.

Paul urges us in Philp.4:6, “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer

and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”

? Perhaps Jesus’ reference to God, as “our Father”, is in and of itself an expression of joy & thanksgiving.

I promise to be brief.  I dare not be long-winded after all that I have said thus far.

When we pray, let us prayer this way.

While not all of these has to appear in every prayer, our prayers as a whole need to reflect these elements.


We come to God on “bended knee” with “heads bowed”.

We lift our hands before God because He is our creator and our redeemer.

I love you Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship You, O my soul, rejoice!

Take joy, my King, in what You hear;  May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.

The psalmist writes (Ps.90:1-2):  “it is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Thy name,

O Most High;  to declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness by night.”

Ps.50:23 says, “whoever offers praise glorifies Me.”


We are all sinners and not one of us righteous in and of ourselves (Rom.3:10).

Those of us who have clothed ourselves with Christ have been saved by God’s mercy and grace.

Search me, O God, and know my heart today;  Try me, O Savior, know my tho’ts I pray.

See if there be some wicked way in me;  Cleanse me from every sin, and sent me free.

This song comes from prayers offered by David (Ps.51:1-3 and Ps.139:23-24): 

“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; 

According to the greatness of Thy compassion, blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”

A balanced prayer life is one that takes personal responsibility for our sinfulness.

The forgiveness we seek in our daily walk is not pardon from an angry judge, but mercy from a grieved Father.


Someone has written, “when I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

Thank You Lord, for loving me.  Thank You Lord, for blessing me.

Thank You Lord, for making me whole and saving my soul.

Thank You, Lord, for loving me.  Thank You. Lord for saving my soul.

Heb.13:15 exhorts us with these words:  “Through Him, then, let us continually

Offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

In the story of Jesus’ healing of the ten lepers, only one returned to give thanks.

Jesus asked, “where are the other nine?”


It is never wrong to ask of God:  He is our Rock, our Strength, our Refuge, a very present Help in time of trouble.

What is wrong, however, is when our prayers are only and continually focused our ourselves.

Give me the heart of a servant, tender and faithful and true.

Fill me love, then use me, O Lord, so that the world can see You.

Eph.6:18 commands us to pray for all the saints.

We are also privileged to pray for sinners.

One day George Mueller began praying for five of his friends.  After many months, one of them came to the Lord.

Ten years later, two others were converted.  It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved.  Mueller persevered in prayer for his fifth friend, right up until his own death.  Soon after his funeral the last one was saved.



“It came about that while (Jesus) was praying, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

A - Adoration

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;  Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Mt.6:9 – “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”

Eph.3:21 – “To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations…”

C – Confession

What can wash away me sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

What can make me whole again?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Ps.51:1 – “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;

according to the greatness of Thy compassion, blot out My sins.”

1Jn.1:8 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to

forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

T – Thanksgiving

Thank You, Lord, for loving me.  Thank You, Lord, for blessing me.

Thank You, Lord, for making me whole and saving my soul.

Heb.13:15 – “Through Him, then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of

praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

1Thess.5:16-18 – “Rejoice always;  Pray without ceasing;  In every-

thing give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

S – Supplication

Father, hear the prayer we offer:  Nor for ease that prayer shall be,

But for strength that we may ever live our lives courageously.

Acts 4:29 – “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant

that Thy bondservants may speak Thy word with all boldness.”

Philp.4:6 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and

supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

  • Sermon PODCAST

  • Get the latest sermons delivered right to your app or device.

  • Subscribe with your favorite podcast player.