There are many approaches to prayer available from a variety of online sources and written materials. A common formula, rubric or guide for personal prayers is offered using the acronym of A.C.T.S. representing four attitudes of prayer modeled in Jesus' Teaching on Prayer (Mt 6:5-15).

  • Adoration: Acknowledging the greatness and dominion of God.
  • Confession: Recognizing our own sinfulness and committing to change.
  • Thanksgiving: Responding with gratitude for all that God gives us and does for us.
  • Supplication: Asking for our needs and the needs of others.

We focus on a habit of daily prayer to build a stronger and more personal relationship with God, to grow in faith, and for heavenly guidance. Adding regular scriptural reflection enhances this relationship. With this in mind and borrowing from a good friend and advisor, Fr. Francis Martin (RIP 2017), I offer the following modified version of the A.C.T.S model introducing a new acronym - A.R.M.S. - representing four attitudes of daily prayer evoking the image of resting in the arms of Jesus. For those who feel a more active call, the acronym - A.R.M.I. - offers an image of joining the army of God in the fight for his kingdom.

Click here for a helpful journal that lays out the following attitudes of prayer!

Acknowledge God
We acknowledge the greatness and dominion of God and give thanks for all that He provides and how He cares for us.
Return to God
We recognize our own sinfulness, our thoughts, words, and actions that work against the kingdom of God, and return to (reconcile with) God by committing to change our ways.
Move towards God
We delve into Gods Word and allow it to change our heart, bring us greater understanding of him, and draw us into closer union with the Trinity.
Invite God
We invite God into our lives and communities by asking for our needs and the needs of others, particularly those needs that would aid us in attaining virtue and holiness.

This focus on a personal relationship with God through daily prayer does not replace the need for community prayer, praise & worship, or prayer recitation. Rather it offers an opportunity to add depth to your life of faith and relationship with God and with each other.

The following notes combine The Lord's Prayer with the A.R.M.S./A.R.M.I. rubric along with suggested scripture references to help accomplish each aspect of prayer. The Psalms provide great guidance and examples for the different perspectives of prayer. Your time of prayer is further enhanced by spending time during meditation for deeper reflection on a particular scripture giving yourself an opportunity to hear from God. The scripture references provided are starting points, recognizing that there is an abundance of other scriptures that could be referenced! As your relationship with Jesus grows, you may become more comfortable with and inspired to find additional scripture references and even to pray spontaneously (prayers from your heart).

Download GuideThe general guideline or goal is to spend an hour with Jesus. If you are new at this, start with five minutes per section (for a total of 30 minutes), and go from there as you are able and inspired.

The Catholic Mass also follows this prayer model. Some prayers of the Mass are noted for each attitude of prayer.

Attitudes of PrayerThe Lord's PrayerDescriptionScripture
Begin Find a quiet place where distractions are minimized. Arrange your area, perhaps light a candle, and have a journal available for writing thoughts, insights or inspired prayers. Recollect yourself, and place (or imagine) yourself in the presence of Jesus. Begin "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

As you begin, take a few moments to unburden yourself, to unload the baggage that weighs us down and keeps us from prayer. Don't worry, you can pick up the baggage again when you're done.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.

We honor God for his greatness, his love and his mercy. We acknowledge that He created us and all things, that He gives us our very breath every day. We thank God for all he gives us and does for us.

Catholic Mass: The opening hymn, the Gloria, and Holy, Holy

Psalms: 8, 100, 103-107, 111-118, 145-150
Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We are called to bring the kingdom of God into this world by living a life of love and compassion. Often heaviness on our hearts and our resulting behaviors stand in the way of God’s kingdom and his will. By repenting, we allow God to strengthen his will in us.

Catholic Mass: The Penitential Rite (I Confess..., Lord, Have Mercy), I am not Worthy (Prayer before Communion)

Psalms: 25, 51, 32, 36, 38, 102, 143
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us;

God provides for all our physical and spiritual needs. He feeds our soul with Jesus' Body and Blood, with his Word and with his Mercy. God can be more effective in us when we acknowledge that he is the source of all we need, of our very being, and when we forgive others, particularly when it seems difficult or even impossible. 
God speaks to us (feeds us) through his Word. We read the scriptures and meditate on them asking God to teach us about our lives, our faith and how we can integrate them into our daily habits. See additional notes below.

Catholic Mass: The Liturgy of the Word (Scripture Readings), the Homily, the Eucharist

Pick a scripture randomly or from the lectionary (readings of the day), or begin with a book from the bible and reflect on a few verses a day. (The First Book of John is a great place to start.)

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

God wants us to trust him with our brokenness rather than hold onto it ourselves. He hears all our prayers and wants us to come to him with our needs.
We also pray for others. Pray for the leaders of the church and our nation, the rich and poor, our friends and our enemies.

Catholic Mass: The Prayers of the Faithful, the Preface and Eucharistic Prayer (prayers before Eucharist)

Psalms: 44, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 85, 106
Close Amen. Take a few minutes to call to mind the many blessings God has given you this day and give thanks.

End "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Thank Jesus for giving you this time and write down any final thoughts.


Reading the scriptures is one of the best ways to get to know God and to hear from God. Jesus says, "If you know me, then you will also know my Father" (Jn 14:7). Jesus is the Word made flesh. Going to the Word, helps us know Jesus, and know God, the Father. Fr. Francis Martin (RIP 2017), founder of The Word Proclaimed Institute and Chaplain, Mother of God Community (Gaithersburg, MD), offers recommendations on how to approach reading scripture in the following online articles:

Reading the scriptures, Lectio Divina
Going Deeper in Prayer

If you would like more detail on The ACTS Method of Christian Prayer there are many online resources in addition to the two I have included in this online article.

-- Bernadette Harmon, 2011