ACTS – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication

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Do you pray the ACTS way?

ACTS, or “adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication,” is an old mnemonic for remembering four basic categories of prayer. It’s possible that without a handy reminder like this one, you’d spend all your time “thanking” God or that you’d spend all your time “confessing.” But with this handy model, it’s easy to move smoothly through four different kinds of prayer. How helpful!

The oldest reference to the acronym itself is in 1893, a little over a century ago. Noah Webster mentions these exact four prayer categories in his famous dictionary of 1828, but he doesn’t mention the acronym. Either the acronym hadn’t been coined at that time, or perhaps he felt like it would be too much detail for his dictionary.

What acronyms or mnemonics do you use when you pray?

ACTS Mnemonic acronym for adoration, confession (or contrition), thanksgiving, supplication, which are four basic categories of prayer. The acronym is intended to serve as a guide or pattern during prayer.
Two other common categories of prayer not represented in this acronym are intercession (but see 2002 citation) and lamentation.
Noah Webster mentions these same four categories of prayer in American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) in A-C-S-T order: “Pray (verb). In worship, to address the Supreme Being with solemnity and reverence, with adoration, confession of sins, supplication for mercy, and thanksgiving for blessings received.”
See also *acronyms; *JOY; *PRAY.
1893 Hargrove Life of Robert Rodolph Suffield 301 : Often have I invited our young people to practice acts of Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication—A.C.T.S. 1900 Pattison Public Worship 133 : We come now to parts of the principal prayer. These are three: First, adoration and thanksgiving; second, confession and intercession; third, petition. These parts may be recalled by the acrostic: A, Ascription and Adoration; C, Confession; T, Thanksgiving; S, Supplication; the letters combined forming the word ACTS. 1904 McDevitt Course of Christian Doctrine 26 : The mnemonic word, “Acts,” will help the children to remember the four ends for which Mass is said : A – Adoration. C – Contrition. T – Thanksgiving. S – Supplication. 1919 Luther League Review vols. 31–32 at 45 : The pastor’s reply was, “Take the heading of the fifth book of the New Testament, acts, that is, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.1919 Weigle Training the Devotional Life 12 : Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication, and Submission … I yet remember the mnemonic device which he gave with it: “You can remember it by thinking of the word ‘Acts,’ spelled with a double S—ACTSS.” 1961 Brown Spirit of Protestantism 137 : Someone has noted that the above sequence of prayer (adoration-confession-thanksgiving-supplication) is an acrostic of the word a-c-t-s, as useful a reminder as any. 1986 Third Way (July) 9/7 at 31 : Many of us were brought up on … analytical prayer systems (ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication) and all that. 1987 Pratt Pray with Your Eyes Open 9 : Though one Christian’s prayers may differ somewhat from another’s, they generally follow similar patterns. Some believers use the design “Jesus, Others, Yourself” (JOY). Others follow the pattern “Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication” (ACTS). 2002 Wagner Christian Prayer for Dummies 97 : The best, most complete organizing method I’ve encountered for prayer is the ACTS method. ACTS is an acronym that stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (essentially a term that combines intercessory and petitionary prayer).
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