Deb Wolf has the best laugh and the kindest smile. I met her in person a few months ago and, despite the age difference, we were fast friends. She leads with wisdom and grace, love and so much encouragement. I pray that her words about prayer are a blessing to you. Welcome Deb! It’s a great pleasure to share your words with my people.
My brain functions like a pinball machine.
For those of you who don’t remember, pinball machines are arcade games where a plunger is used to shoot a steel ball onto a slanted field filled with obstacles. The goal is to keep the ball in play as long as possible.
So, back to my brain…
It feels like my thoughts are always fighting through an obstacle field of distractions.
I do my best to keep them in play as long as possible, but it’s not easy.
Maybe you can relate. Life is noisy and fast. You have dozens of ideas bouncing around in your head. Concentration takes intentional effort and discipline.
This is especially true while focusing during prayer.
I can have the best intentions to spend time with the Lord in prayer – but when I pray for Ann, I start to think about Bobby or something that happened last week, or last month, or years ago. And suddenly I realize I haven’t prayed for the last ten minutes.
So, I’ve come up with some things that are helping me stay focused and make prayer more meaningful.
Before we dive in, I’d like to say that this is not a how-to post. It is just a list of things I’ve tried and found helpful. It’s my hope that they are helpful for you, as well.
My 10-Step Process for Focusing During Prayer
1. Pen and Paper
Grab a journal and write. I’ve started pouring my heart into my prayer journals. Praise. Repent. Ask. Yield. I also write Scripture verses and quotes I find while studying,Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. -William Wordsworth Click To Tweet
I started the year sitting down for my quiet time as soon as I got out of bed, but I couldn’t keep my mind from wandering to the things I needed to do to meet my morning goals. So now I prepare by doing my must dos first and then ready my heart and mind to sit quietly with the Lord.
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. [1 Peter 1:13]
This is my favorite. I thank God for who He is and remember all He has done and is doing. I want to pay attention and appreciate the countless ways He blesses me every day.
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. [Colossians 4:2]
Next I ask for forgiveness and forgive others. This one is never easy. I’d like to gloss over it. Blame someone else. Make excuses. But it’s important. When I stop to recognize my sin and God’s forgiveness I’m overwhelmed by His grace. I need that to help me forgive the people who have hurt me. I don’t think I’d be very good at forgiving without God’s love.
“We pardon to the extent that we love.” [François de la Rochefoucauld]
This is where I stop and pour my heart out. I talk with God about my joys and struggles. My hopes and dreams. And all the things I’m tempted to worry about. I give it all to Him again and again and again.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. [Philippians 4:6]
It’s easy to say “I’ll pray for you,” and then forget. Keeping a list helps. Using a prayer app works, too. Praying for others is the reason I’ve added a Blessing Counters Pray Page. Head over and leave a request. I’d love to pray for you.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. [1 Timothy 2:1]
I love that Jesus taught about persistent prayer. Do you have things you’ve prayed about for years? Me too! It’s okay if you and I have prayed for something hundreds of times. If it’s on our hearts and minds it’s important enough to talk with God about it. Jesus said so.
One day Jesus told His disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. [Luke 18:1]
Waiting is hard. Trusting God’s perfect timing isn’t easy, but saying it out loud or writing it down helps. Sometimes I just have to say, ““Lord I trust Your perfect will for me. Give me peace while I wait on You.”
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. [Psalm 27:13–14]Trusting God's perfect timing isn't easy, but writing it down helps. #prayer Click To Tweet
This part is really hard for my pinball brain. Just sitting. Listening. But it’s important. So, I’m intentionally sitting still in His presence and asking Him to speak to my heart.
“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue; God’s voice is its most essential part. Listening to God’s voice is the secret of the assurance that He will listen to mine.” [Andrew Murray]
I end my prayer time trusting that with God all things are possible. He is able. He will change my circumstances or He will change me. I simply pray, “Your will be done.”
Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.” [Mark 10:27]
If you can relate, if staying focused and having a meaningful time of prayer has been hard for you, I suggest you give these ten steps a try.
For a printable copy of this list to help you remember, click here.
Remember: Your Father loves you and He hears and answers every prayer.
Deb is a passionate blessing counter who loves to study the ways faith and life intersect. This year at Counting My Blessings, she is sharing The Relationship Project – How One Relationship Affects All Others. Deb lives in Missouri with her husband and furry child, Sadie, now that all of their human children are grown and have little ones of their own. And yes, being a grandparent is the best! She’s hoping you will join her on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.