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How Should I Pray? A Guideline to Prayer

Updated on June 6, 2015
Mary Magdalene praying.
Mary Magdalene praying. | Source

A friend offered me this advice about prayer and it has always been a guideline for me as I pray. Use the word "Acts" (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) and you'll always remember to not just pray for what you need or want. Each letter stands for the type of prayer you should be praying.

What is important to God is that we have a relationship with him first. He wants us to be able to just talk to him like we would a friend, with complete respect of course. He doesn't want us to just repeat the same prayers over and over again or treat him like he is Santa Claus and just ask for what we need. Coming to him in prayer often is important too. The Bible says to "pray without ceasing."

I often just pray short prayers throughout the day and just talk to God, but when I have time I try to include these guidelines. If I have a need, I pray immediately about that need or if I commit a sin I try to ask forgiveness right away. But "Acts" is a good guideline to help us remember that we need to worship Him, review our hearts to see if we have sinned etc and do these things everyday.

Jesus told us to use the "Our Father" as a guideline to prayer and this outline contains each part of that prayer.


Adoration is worship. I always wondered what the proper way to worship God was and found that it is just telling God who He is. Then it was easy because I knew God is all powerful, all knowing, eternal, perfectly loving etc.

Now it is easy to worship God. I just thank him for being powerful enough to take care of all of my problems. All knowing enough to always know what they are, loving me when I really don't deserve it etc.

When you see a beautiful sunset and you praise God for creating such beauty, that is Adoration. We often adore God without realising we are doing just that.


Confession is just admitting to God that we have done wrong. We need to not only admit it but repent of it and change our ways. Each of us sins everyday even if we don't realise it. Bad thoughts are even sin.

The best way to ask for forgiveness of sins is to ask immediately after we have sinned. I've found this to be the best way to break bad habits anyway. You don't need to go through the entire outline for prayer to do this, but when you do have time to have a special prayer time it is good to review your shortfallings of the day and ask forgiveness.

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:8,9 KJV


We need to thank God for all of the things He has provided for us. Without Him we would have nothing. Thanksgiving is good for us as we realise just how many blessings we have. You may feel poor until you start counting just how much God has provided for you.

The Bible says "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20


Supplication is asking for our needs and the needs of others. Our prayers are always answered, sometimes with the answer "No" but they are always answered. We don't think this is an answer but sometimes we ask for something that isn't really good for us.

It is important to put our needs before God, because it shows our dependence on Him. If we do our best to follow Him, He will take care of us.

As we put things in God's hands we don't need to worry about anything. Open your hands and picture giving your problems to God and then forget them.

Give thanks to God after you ask him for anything. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Read the verse one more time. Thanksgiving is as important when asking God for anything as asking. It shows our faith that he will answer us.

My advice is to be careful what you ask God for. We needed another vehicle and were looking at car lots for one. I pointed at one of the small Ford Rangers and said "That is what I want." We'd been praying about the problem and God heard me. The only problem was that the truck was more money than we could afford and besides it was red. I hate red vehicles.

We went home and I was browsing through our local shopper and found the exact same truck at a super good price. The fellow that owned it couldn't afford the payments anymore. We went and looked at the truck and it was such a good deal that we could afford it. Guess what color it was - Red. I got just what I said I wanted. Watch what you ask for!! God listens to prayer.

The Bible says "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16b KJV. God does listen to our prayers. Our prayers are important to Him.

1 John 5:14-15 says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of Him." Sometimes the answer will be yes to the prayer and at other times it may be "no." God knows what is best for us.

Have you ever prayed for something and got just what you asked for?

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    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      6 years ago from USA

      Patrick, I'm happy I could help.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      very helpful I was given a task to teach about prayer to the youth in my church and now I have all answers, thank

      Patrick from Pretoria south africa

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      jukels, Thanks for reading and I will need to edit it. I'm surprised I never caught it.

    • jukels profile image

      McDaniels Okoro 

      8 years ago from Nigeria

      Barbara, this is an amazing hub. I must confess! I know this is an old hub. But I discovered an error in the "Thanksgiving" section, where you typed "We need to thank God for all of the things is has provided for us". I think it should read "We need to thank God for all of the things (He) has provided for us" instead. Thanks for opening my eyes to this. I never knew Our Lord's Prayer has such power in it. I usually just say it for saying sake. But while I was going through your hub, I tried to picture Our Lord's Prayer in my head as well and the "ACTS" was well inline with it. Very wonderful post indeed!

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      sunkentreasure, Thank you for adding the poem on prayer.

    • sunkentreasure profile image


      8 years ago from RUIMSIG, SOUTH AFRICA


      There is no greater joy

      than loving God in prayer

      There are no riches more rewarding

      than the eternal treasures you'll receive

      Prayer brings powerful help into your life

      Prayer changes circumstances

      What a wonderful privilege we have

      to give our heart to our Father in prayer.

      © Bernard Levine

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      Diana, Using the word ACTS really helps me too. God bless you too and thank for commenting.

    • Diana Mendes profile image

      Diana Mendes 

      8 years ago

      Great & wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing. "ACTS" What a nice way to remember how to pray. I love to start prayer by praising God. God bless you.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      8 years ago

      Barbara Kay , This is Wonderful and insightful! I believe that this will be most helpful to many! Prayer is essential in our relationship with the Lord! I think it is important to keep an ongoing open dialogue with Him throughout each day… Thank You for sharing, In His Love, Grace, Joy, Peace & Blessings!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      You gave outstanding advice here. Thank you for publishing this needful Hub. It is wonderfully made. :-)

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      8 years ago from USA

      Victoria Lynn, Thanks for all the compliments and I do hope it helps someone.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      8 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great hub. Useful to know. Also voted interesting, beautiful, awesome, and voted up. This hub is extremely helpful for those who want to know how to pray...and get stuck. Thanks, Barbara Kay!

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      9 years ago from USA

      Sinea Pies, It is really amazing if you think about it. I thank God often for this ability.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      9 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Prayer is such a privilege. Think about it...we can talk to GOD...and He answers us!

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      9 years ago from USA

      RTalloni, Thanks for reading the hub and thanks for commenting.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Encouraging each other in prayer according to God's Word is so important!

      "We pray for ourselves and for other followers of Jesus and for the world that we would reverence and cherish the name of God above things. This is the first function of prayer -- to pray that people would pursue the glory of God." J. Piper

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      10 years ago from USA

      Tamarajo, Thanks. A friend shared this with me and I try to remember it.

    • Tamarajo profile image


      10 years ago

      I like the acronym for ACTS makes it easy to remember.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 

      10 years ago from United States

      I have heard that, and to this day, when I am really sitting down to pray, i often will make sure that I remember to talk to him about each thing.

    • Barbara Kay profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Badder 

      10 years ago from USA

      I talk to him like a person too, but this reminds me that I also need to remember to include worship, confession etc too. I usually do little shorties sprinkled throughout the day.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i simply speak 2 God like i would a physical person


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