How is your prayer life? Is it better than it was this time last year? Do words like stagnant or even routine come to mind?
One of the major ways God gave His people to communicate with Him was through prayer. Many times our prayer life consists of rushing through a few recited words before a meal or before we go to bed. And please understand those are not bad things. I just hope there are other times you are connecting with the Father through prayer.
Have you really stop to think about your prayer life? If you say, “it’s not great” or “it’s not where you would like it to be” here a few questions you can ask yourself. First, when do you pray? Second, where do you pray? Third, what do you pray for? Many times when I struggle with prayer it is because of a lack of consistency and focus. The purpose of this discussion is to focus on the first two questions, the when and the where. I will discuss the third question later this week.
Most of us spend a great deal of time planning different aspects of our life. For some, fitness and health is a major priority. It is something I am trying to focus on currently in my life. However, if one is going to be truly successful in their fitness goals it requires planning. Trainers will tell you to try and find a consistent time to go to the gym. Why, it creates a habit. There should be a flow and purpose to what you are doing. Preparation allows you to go into the time with a focus on what you are doing and why you are there. In the same way, dietitians will tell you to plan your meals and track what you eat. Don’t just wait until you are hungry to make a decision on what you are going to eat. Decide before hand.
Prayer in much the same way requires discipline and focus. If you find yourself stuck in a rut in your prayer life or lacking focus and direction here are a few suggestions to possibly help you to find a focus. This is not to be taken in a legalistic way; you must do this, this way sense, but simply to heighten your focus.
The first two questions really go together, where and when do you pray? Now of course you understand there is nothing special about a place or time. There is no place where God is going to or not going to hear our prayers. It is important from the stand point, we need a place where and when we can focus. If you are a stay at home mom with 3 children, there are certain times and places, depending on the schedule of your children, which would probably not be very conducive to focusing in prayer.
For me, I am finding the only time of the day I truly have complete control over is early in the morning. I have started getting up at 5 AM before my wife and kids. I go into the home office and shut the door. There are no distractions, it is me and God. In our ever changing world it is becoming more and more difficult to find those places and times when it is completely silent.
Many times we are unable to hear God speak because He is in constant competition with all of the other noises in our life. If we look at Jesus life many times he went off by himself to pray. Why? There are no other distractions. With everyone competing for his attention, Jesus needed to get away. When can you be by yourself? When do you turn your cell phone off? Your computer? When do you not check your email or Facebook?
Regardless of the actual time and place, find a place you can eliminate or at the very least significantly reduce the noise around you. Pick a time and a place which works best for you and guard the time. Make it a priority and protect the time. Create a space for you to be in God’s presence.
In Part II later this week I will discuss the specifics of my focus during prayer time, answering the question, “what do I pray for? If we desire to have a flourishing relationship with Christ we must make prayer a priority.