Basic Prayer Structure for Christians
I was raised in a Christian home, but I never knew how to structure my prayer life. It's not like there was an example of prayer structure available for me to follow. As a result, I stumbled through conversations with God and had no idea what to say or how to say it. But thanks to some simple prayer tools that have helped me get started praying, now my prayer life is thriving!
It doesn't matter how old you are or where you're from. We could all use prayer structure examples from time to time to help us get started with our personal prayer life, and here's a few for Christians of any age!
Prayer structure examples
If you're struggling to know how to pray, I recommend the following structures as prayer tools alongside prayer journaling. These are by no means exhaustive lists; they simply provide a place for you to start.
ACTS Structure of Prayer
Look up prayer structure on Google and you're bound to find the ACTS method of praying. Of course, I didn't have the benefit of Google in my early Christian life, but I'm thankful I do now!
ACTS is an acrostic. That is each letter is a way to remember a full thought. Here's what each letter stands for:
Adoration - showing how you adore God and praising Him for who He is.
Confession - admitting your sins to yourself and to God.
Thanksgiving - giving thanks to God for what he has done in your life.
Supplication - remembering to ask for other peoples' needs.
This is the most basic prayer structure, and can be the easiest to remember. It also corresponds to a book of the Bible, a very important book detailing how the first church came to be.
HEART Prayer Structure
Another popular way to structure prayer is an acrostic called HEART. While most of this structure is fairly similar, It is slightly different by asking you to examine your own life. Gaining insight into your own actions and motives can help you to grow more than any other action you can take during prayer.
Honor God with your praise
Examine your life
Ask for help/needs
Requests for others
As you can see, many of the steps are the same, but it can be a bit scary to look deeply at yourself. If your actions don't scare you, your motives might.
Remember, while you are a sinner, God offers grace and mercy for sinners. Practice giving yourself that same grace and mercy so you can pass that on to other people.
PRAY Prayer Structure Example
Yet another acrostic is PRAY. This one adds a new dimension to the Christian prayer experience. We are called not only to pray and ask for our needs, but also to yield our wants and desires to God so that His perfect will is done.
PRAY can help us with remembering this step. Here's what the letters stand for:
Praise - offer praise to God for who He is.
Repent - confess sin and agree not to do it again.
Ask - make your requests and needs known to God.
Yield - forget about your wants and desires so that you can pursue God's will.
The last letter is the real trick. It is the step I am doing my best to learn. Giving up our wants can be a very difficult ask, but Jesus displayed this behavior during His prayer in the garden. He asked God if there was any way the cup could pass from him, but Jesus said not His will, but the Father's be done.
Yielding is where the true measure of a Christian can be found. When we can learn to let go of ourselves and live for something greater, we have laid down our own lives and choose to live for Christ instead.
PAST Structure of Prayer
The last acrostic is PAST. It is very similar to ACTS, but acknowledges God for what he has done. It lends to respecting God for who he is and what he has done for us.
Here's what the letters of PAST stand for:
Praise - offer praise to God for who He is.
Acknowledge - declare God is in control and the source of all that is good.
Supplication - ask for God's help in the lives of others.
Thanksgiving - giving thanks to God for all he has done in your life.
As you can see, PAST includes the step of acknowledging God. Placing him at the head of your life will change how you see the world, and help you to know that He is God. He is in control and wants what is best for you.
How To Structure Prayer
There is no set way to structure prayer. Jesus himself said to pray like Him in Matthew 6, but he didn't say to recite that specific prayer.
In fact, his prayer doesn't exactly fit any of these models. If I had to characterize it, I would say it was ARSCRP, which is not at all a helpful acrostic.
Acknowledge - Our Father in Heaven, holy is your name
Requests - Your kindgom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
Supplication - Give us today our daily bread
Confession - and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Repent - Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Praise - For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, AMEN
I know, ARSCRP doesn't just roll off the tongue. I usually start with the Lord's prayer first thing in the morning though, just to set the pace for the day. Then I move to a more personal conversational prayer.
This usually helps me get in the mindset for not just letting my requests be known, but also to let God know how much I adore and praise Him. It also reminds me to thank Him for all he has done for me and all he is going to do.
So let me know, do you use any of these prayer structures? Maybe you have your own? Drop me a note below and let me know!