Prayer is simply conversing with God. It’s like talking with God as you would talk with an earthly parent who loves you and wants the best for you, except God is your heavenly Father who loves you perfectly. One often used model for prayer is patterned after the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. It is the A.C.T.S. model which stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.
Adoration means worship. We praise Him for who He is and for all that He has done. God delights in our praise. Confession means agreeing with God about the things that we have done wrong. It’s a time to express sorrow about what we have said, thought, or done that is not pleasing to Him. We ask God to forgive us for these things, and then believe that He does so freely. Thanksgiving simply means being thankful to God. Supplication is where we lift up to God our needs and for the needs of others, which can include family and friends, governments and their leaders, etc. The A.C.T.S. model serves as a guide to help you, not a “one way” to pray. There is no canned approach; you just talk from the heart.
Giving thanks for all that God has done is important in my life. God deserves my thanks and gratitude because I can do nothing without him. There is a great story in the Bible which highlights giving thanks. It is found in Luke 17: 11-19 and involves Jesus’ interaction with a group of lepers. Here’s the story:
“On the way to Jerusalem he (Jesus) was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" And he said to him, "Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well."”
At an unnamed village, ten leprous men stood afar from Jesus. They were in various stages of decay, and apparently they had banded together for the sake of mutual care and support. Just the fact they were lepers was a social death sentence. Jesus hears their cry, from afar, for mercy. He didn’t call the men over; he didn’t touch them; he didn’t say “You are healed.” He simply told them to go to the local priests in obedience to Leviticus 14. This is where a cured leper would go to the local priest to be inspected to verify he was now free of leprosy. Jesus’ command required faith and all ten obeyed the Lord’s command, showing faith before seeing signs of their healing. As they traveled to the priests, they are healed. Only one, the Samaritan, returned to express thanks and gratitude. His gratitude is not surprising. The real surprise is that the other nine didn’t return and do likewise.
Upon the Samaritan’s return to thank the Lord, Jesus asks three simple yet piercing questions in rat-a-tat manner. The purpose of the questions wasn’t to elicit an answer (Jesus is God), but to provide a teaching moment for those around him. It also provides a teaching moment today for all of us. The questions were:
• “Didn’t I heal ten men?”
• “Where are the other nine?”
• “Is the Samaritan the only one who returned to give praise to God?
How would you sum up these three questions from our Lord? What would be the theme? Clearly, thankfulness is expected, as it should be. God deserves our thankfulness and we should tell him we are thankful. These ten men came before Jesus with the hope of healing. All of them walked away cleansed but only one turned back to praise God and thank Jesus for his healing. Jesus makes it a point to call out the other nine to show the importance of our gratitude. He deserves to hear our thanksgiving often through praise and prayer. God’s Word is rich with the theme of thankfulness. Below are a few representative passages highlighting thankfulness:
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm 7:17
“I will give thanks to you, Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
We are to give thanks to our Lord with all our heart in whatever we do because he is good, he is faithful, and his love endures forever. The story of the ten lepers has impacted me as I have recently looked at my prayer life. Yes, there are many times I have fallen before the Lord and given thanks for his many blessings and responses to my prayers. Yet, sadly, there are many times I have acted as the other nine in this story and just kept walking, instead of stopping and expressing thanks. How about you? Have you stopped walking in life to thank God? Are you giving the Lord ample thanks and gratitude in your prayers? Oh how He deserves our praise and thanks. We have a wonderful God who loves us perfectly. Thank you!