The word ACTS is frequently used as a way of remembering four essential parts of prayer Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
Last month I touched on the idea that prayer is essentially a loving relationship with God so adoration is a good starting point. Evelyn Underhill wrote,
“Adoration is caring for God above all else”
We think of adoration most often in terms of two people. When they are not physically together they will often be thinking of the partner. Part of our adoration is being subconsciously aware of God’s presence…Allowing His words to dwell in our mind, remembering actions of Our Lord Jesus Christ and accepting the guidance of His Holy Spirit.. However often there will be times when other thoughts and activities take over. Does this destroy the relationship? Of course not!
But lovers do need times to be together, just for one another. “See you tonight at 7.00pm – usual place” gets the reply “You bet”! In much the same way we need to find a special time and place to meet with Our Lord. Jesus knew the importance of this and told us.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
In this relationship of adoration words may not necessary. The famous French priest The Cure D’ars spoke about a farm labourer who sat in silence at dawn every day in the church. Asked to explain his actions the farmer replied.
“I look at Him and He looks at me And we are happy together”
Silence is not always enough, and finding the right words can be difficult. Lovers will often use words written by someone else to express their innermost thoughts which they could never put in such a wonderful way. It may be a piece of poetry, or an extract from a book, or a couple of lines from a song.
In much the same way Christian Adoration is often expressed by using words from scripture or a hymn.
I did not write the following words, from Psalm 8, but as I recite them they can express adoration from my own heart.
Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
The use of verses of scripture and hymns as a way of expressing our adoration and love for God, in words beyond our own abilities is a major part of adoration. It can be used privately in our personal prayer, but of course it is also a major component in our worship together.
Martin Luther made this very clear in the following statement
To gather with God’s people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer.
However close the relationship of our loving couple may be, they do not live in isolation. It is right that we should have a loving intimate and adoring relationship with God. The fact that God is Trinity is an eternal reminder that the precious “one to one” relationship that we enjoy in prayer may be a useful, but it is not a perfect analogy.
My personal prayer relationship needs to be seen as Luther reminds us as part of a wonderful corporate family, who join together in saying,
(First of a series by Roger Vaughan)