Adding Lament to the ACTS Prayer
Holy Week is a time to grow deeper in our practice of prayer. I highly recommend spending some time in our stations of the cross this week (tomorrow and Wednesday) in the sanctuary and also engaging in our services of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter.
Holy Saturday, the day before Easter is a time to turn off the media and engage in some times of silence and prayer.
In my current prayer practice, I am finding a great deal of depth in the ACTS prayer:
A - Adoration
C - Confession
T - Thanksgiving
S - Supplication
I most often turn to the ACTS prayer when my soul is not at peace. Maybe I have had some type of conflict, maybe I can't sleep, or maybe my heart just hurts for some reason. When that happens, this prayer reminds me to sing God's praises (Adoration), to give thanks for my many blessings (Thanksgiving), and to ask for what my heart needs (Supplication).
While all of the parts are important, it is really the Confession that gives me an immediate sense of peace when I pray this prayer. I search my words and actions for things that I need to confess. In this time of confession, I own up to the times that I have not been kind or that I spoke without thinking.
Sometimes, however, it is not really confession that I need, but instead it is lament. When I am not at peace and I can't find an action to confess, lament is there. This is a place where we can open up our hearts and share the pain we feel. Maybe when we get to the supplication we can voice a need, but sometimes just the sharing of a time of lament is healing in itself.
We are experiencing lament over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While there may be some relief actions we can take, such as giving to UMCOR, it is not enough to take away the pain we are feeling. We express that pain in our prayer as lament.
As we ponder the last days of Jesus, we enter into his suffering, but continue to live as people of hope.