John Piper has a simple format he uses whenever there is something that is coming up against him, or whenever there is a circumstance that simply lies out of his control. Whether studying Scripture, preaching, teaching, trials, or whatever it may be, this format seems to be very helpful. It’s simplistic and many people may say, “oh of course, I know all those things.” But does your heart know these things? We can simply acknowledge information with our lips and our heart be very far from the content of what the words mean. Just as the ACTS acrostic is useful in prayer (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication), this is also useful in the same context, particularly when you have something difficult coming up against you. It’s APTAT and it goes like this:
A – “Admit you cannot do it without Christ.” This is simply the acknowledgement and agreement with Christ that we can do nothing apart from Him. We must tell our hearts this, otherwise we can slip into self-sufficiency and non-reliance upon Christ.
P – “Pray for assistance and help and enablement.” This is acknowledging your totally depraved nature, that sin has disabled all your faculties, all facets of your life, every aspect, and that the only way you can do anything for God’s glory is by His Spirit giving you power.
T – “Trust in a particular promise of God to give you what you need for that situation.” Use your mind to think about the various promises of God and meditate upon these. They are set in stone and we cannot be moved because of His promises, appropriated through the cross. Consider the promises of Romans 8, for example.
A – “Act, no passivity.” At this point, we act (we don’t sit around and wait for God to zap us or make us move, we start to act with our hands and hearts). We utilize the abilities we’ve been given in the name of Christ, relying upon His strength to give us power in the midst of what it is we have to do or go through.
T – “Thankfulness to God for His work in helping you.” After we have accompished or gone through these events, we submit to God, giving Him glory for all of it, every aspect, from beginning to end. This is simply attributing to God what is rightly His work. Praise Him for His faithfulness!