November 21, 2018
Years ago, I learned a format for praying that I continue to use in my personal devotions. It’s very simple: ACTS. It’s an acronym meaning Adoration (adoring God for His grandeur and awesomeness) , Confession (confessing my sins and asking for forgiveness), Thanksgiving (saying thank you for the blessings I have received), and Supplication (asking God for stuff). When I take a large block of time to talk to God, I usually follow this simple formula. The thing that I have discovered praying this way is that spending time praising God, confessing my sins, and saying thank you make a large contribution to my own happiness. In fact, I’ve found that in the process of praying like this I find new things to be impressed by about God’s work, things I am grateful for, and things that I need to confess. It gets easier and easier the more I do it. The simple act of taking time to look for things to be happy or thankful for changes our mindset and trains us to look. It’s amazing how many things we have in this life to be grateful for that we don’t notice because we aren’t looking or thinking about it.
Last week, I had a minor car repair job to do and my 5-year old son insisted on helping me. I had planned on doing it while he was in school so I could get it done as quickly and painlessly as I could, but he got excited about helping. So, he and I took the car apart and put it back together. Spending the couple of hours with him, explaining the car repair to him and helping him turn the screwdriver and help in various other ways made me realize that had I rushed through the work while he was at school, I would have missed something great. He will only be a little boy for so long. I only have so many car repair times with my little boy. It’s easy to take it for granted that my own convenience is the most important thing. In reality, taking my time and working with my son reminded me that I am blessed by God with an amazing family. It’s easy to forget that when there’s so much to get done on any given day, but I am grateful. Part of being grateful and being thankful to God for the gift of a family is loving, cherishing, and spending time with them. That in turn gives me new things to praise God and be grateful for. The simple act of looking and spending time breeds more awareness.
As Thanksgiving approaches, many families take the time to celebrate and enjoy the bounty of the gifts God has given us. I have known folks who take a moment before their annual meal to share one or two things they are thankful for. It’s a good practice and is a good way to make sure that we make the holiday about what it’s about. It’s also a part of actually thanking God for what He has given us. Life is best when we live a lifestyle where we give thanks daily and avoid taking His gifts for granted. Thanksgiving is a good place to start.