A.C.T.S.: A Wonderful Format for Prayer

A.C.T.S.: A Wonderful Format for Prayer
By Jerrome Placido

When was the last time you told someone, “I love you”? We’ve heard the phrase about 50 times on the last hit comedy-romance. It’s a theme popular for most of the songs playing on the radio, and it’s something we dream of saying to a special someone. But when was the last time we said those words to God?

When was the last time someone made you cry because of something they did or didn’t do? When was the last time you made someone cry for the same reasons? Think about the swirl of emotions that goes through someone in the midst of heartache or disappointment. How often do we go through that surge of emotions when we offend the one who loves us most?

During this last leg of the Lenten season we should reevaluate two of our goals in all our practices. We must increase in both Love and Repentance. How do we do that?

One major obstacle would be to see God as He truly is. What’s that? Well… God. Yes God is our friend, our companion, greatest example of love and sacrifice, our Provider and Redeemer but above all of these He is God. How can one grow in love or feel sorry for having offended Him if he doesn’t realize who He is. The danger of this is for those already matured in their spirituality or for those just beginning. It’s the danger of becoming over familiar with God and lukewarm in our spirituality. How sad it is when one realizes that he has not said to God, “I Love You” in quite some time. Even the gestures which show love and reverence like a simple genuflection become outward signs of nothing within.

But you see the beauty of our faith is that daily we are given so many different ways to express our love for God. So when one does nothing at all to express his/her love and falls into the trap of tepidity God becomes greatly offended for He first loved us and desires only that we love Him in return. But how can we love God if we do not recognize Him for who He is.

I remember the very first confirmation retreat I did, we had one talk entitled “Jesus is my Homeboy.” There were a few violent reactions and some negative responses but at the time I had a hard time understanding why. But it wasn’t the talk which brought concern to some of the participants more than it was the way in which we referred to Jesus. Not to say that it was wrong, but I can now see the fear and caution now that others saw. It was a concern in the way one views Jesus and how we approach Him.

There’s the concern that one might be intimidated or simply clueless on how to speak to God, the common response would be to speak to Him as if He were any average Joe we meet on the street. It’s great for starters but we have to realize that our relationship must progress to something more, something deeper. Let’s not forget we are the redeemed and He is Redeemer, we are creatures and He is Creator.

That’s why the common format used for prayer is A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). We first make an act of adoration, that is acknowledge that it is God who we speak to, who deserves reverence, awe and adoration. Then we make an act of contrition, understanding that no one can remain blameless in His sight and so we recognize before God that we have offended Him and express sorrow for doing so. Thanksgiving is then needed because He gives us so much already and before we can ask for more it is right and just that we thank Him for all He has already given us. Then we pray in supplication, that is, we ask God to supply for us all that we need materially and spiritually and have faith that we are heard and He will give us what is best for us.

But it’s not only in prayer that we show our love for Him; let us maintain always that presence of God. That is, realize that He is always with us, in a special way when we receive Him truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. So with that in mind, and with a growth in our love for Him, let us realize that when we offend Him, we in a certain way forget ourselves, forget that we are the creatures who owe everything to our Creator. We finite beings offend God who is infinite and his pains run deeper than we can ever imagine when He see’s man, His greatest work, rebel against His infinite love and mercy by our disobedience to His will and commands. How can we be sorry for our sins or show Him the love he deserves when we forget who He is, and forget that He’s ALWAYS there.

The challenge is to not forget the object of our love, and to grow in that love for He has never for a moment forgotten us. We can easily fall into the trap of indifference but the solution is to entrust ourselves to the Blessed Mother who knows perfectly how to love our Lord, for she loves Him endlessly and that love is ALWAYS new.

That is why I suggest before praying in the ACTS format, entrust your prayer to her who prays for us and with us. It’s nothing new, there is no saint who was not Marian and many of our modern day saints in the making now already have made it their personal practice, rather than ACTS let us follow a MACTS format (Marian, Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).

“To Jesus through Mary.” – St. Louis de Montfort

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