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Archive for October 21st, 2008

ACTS Prayer

A few days ago, I received a nice comment on this blog from Renwood Flagg. “Ren” describes himself as “sorta retired,” but acting as “technogeek” at Spring Arbor University, a Christian college near Jackson, Mich. He says he is a life-long Presbyterian who “became a Christian just a few years ago.” Here is what he said:

Dear Kimberly:

I’ve read and enjoyed your book, especially the history and the prayers surrounding the Anglican Rosary.

I’ve been making rosaries for several years, and am always amazed at the response from many people who see and touch a rosary for the very first time,,, very extroverted people become shy and awkward to the extent that many of them have a friend contact me to make one for them! Others will not ask but I usually make a special rosary and offer it to them as a gift. I’ve never been refused! How strange it is that when offered an aid to speak with God, we become fearful.

I always include suggestions for praying the rosary and have found that for the truly inexperienced, A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication) works the best.. It’s easy to learn and to apply your own prayers, and the four week Anglican rosary is uniquely adapted for the prayer.

Thank you for your good work,

Ren Flagg,
Elder
Jackson’s First Presbyterian Church,
Jackson, Michigan

I wrote back to say I had never heard of this ACTS prayer, and I wrote to Ren and asked him to elaborate. His response came today:

Wow!! Here I am writing to a real live author!!  How cool is that?

About ACTS:  ACTS is a four step prayer formula, definitely not my invention, that helps people to focus on their prayers.  The Anglican rosary is ideal for ACTS because of the four weeks (duh!).  Basically it’s Adoration, Contrition/Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication (your own prayers).

My personal formula is: “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” at the cross. “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” at the Invitatory.  “Open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise” at the first cruciform.  Either the Gloria “Glory be to the Father, and to the son….. as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be…..” or the Doxology “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” on each of the first weeks beads. This is the Adoration.

“O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace” at the second cruciform bead.  The Agnus Dei (O Lamb of God…… have mercy upon me.  O Lamb of God….. grant me your peace) on each of the beads of the second week.  This is the Contrition/Confession.

“Thanks be to God, the Almighty, the King of Creation”, on the third cruciform bead and on each of the beads of the third week.  This is the Thanksgiving.  I modified the words to a Presbyterian hymn “Praise Ye the Lord” to fit.

“Oh Lord, hear my prayer; when I call, answer me” on the fourth cruciform bead and then your own personal supplication (prayers) on the beads of the fourth week.  “O Lord, hear my prayer” comes from both Psalm 4 and Psalm 141 and has been adapted to a beautiful Taize’ hymn chant. Our congregation sings this before the Prayers of the People during Lent and there’s not a dry eye in the house!

The Apostle’s Creed on the exit bead, the Lord’s Prayer on the Invitatory bead and “In the name of the Father, the Son…” at the cross.

Anne Lamott says that there are only two types of prayer:  “Help me, help me, help me!” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”  This is true, in my opinion, because most of us do only reactionary prayer… not that there’s anything wrong with that!  The ACTS device helps start the new pray-er on the path to contemplative prayer.  It can also be used as CATS (seriously!) where the Confession comes first, the the Adoration, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Thank you very much for asking me about ACTS.

I cannot wait to try this! Now, just to chart it out for you, Ren’s ACTS Prayer would go like this:

ON THE CROSS

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

ON THE INVITATORY BEAD

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock. and my redeemer.

ON THE FIRST CRUCIFORM (Adoration)

Open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

ON THE FIRST SET OF WEEKS

Glory be to the Father, and to the son. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, Amen.

or

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

ON THE SECOND CRUCIFORM (Contrition/Confession)

O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

ON THE SECOND SET OF WEEKS

O Lamb of God, have mercy upon me.  O Lamb of God, grant me your peace

ON THE THIRD CRUCIFORM (Thanksgiving)

Thanks be to God, the Almighty, the King of Creation.

ON THE THIRD SET OF WEEKS

Repeat the above.

ON THE FOURTH CRUCIFORM (Supplication)

Oh Lord, hear my prayer; when I call, answer me.

ON THE FOURTH SET OF WEEKS

Your own personal prayers

RETURNING TO THE FIRST CRUCIFORM ( Ren calls this the Exit Bead)

The Apostles Creed

THE INVITATORY BEAD

The Lord’s Prayer

THE CROSS

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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