Do you feel guilty, and wonder if you’re praying enough, or to your personal embarrassment, you actually forget to pray about something you committed to? We all experience times of feeling like a failure when we become aware of a prayer request, we respond we’ll be praying, and then several days later we realize we never took the time to take that request or petition to the Lord. Paul describes the struggle within, in Romans 7:15 (NIV), by stating “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Jesus also exhorts us to, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41, NIV) How do we discipline our minds and bodies to do what we want them to do when it comes to our prayer life?
Accordingly, we need to recognize by God’s design, various needs affect us differently and our response levels will vary, as some concerns will simply resonate more within our souls. During last summer’s shark attacks on Oak Island, NC, my heart felt like breaking for those two children and I found it was a natural response to pray, pray, pray for them. At other times for various requests, I will pray, but perhaps not as fervently, confident God guides me in my personal prayer response.
Our prayers are most effective when we focus our minds and ensure they are not obscured. 1 Peter 4:7 (NIV) tells us, “. . . Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” If our minds are dull, we’ll have difficulty remembering and concentrating. Our responsibility is to keep our minds sharp, and as we grow older it becomes more challenging. I’ve learned, and several friends confirm this, it helps to find a tool to assist you. Suggestions include printing out prayer requests which come to us via email and keeping them on our desks, in our Bibles, on the refrigerator, or wherever we will see them and lift them before our Father. Personally, I like to keep requests in my email inbox as a ready reminder to pray. And, don’t be afraid to write prayer needs down, whether in a group setting or alone with another individual, as our minds will focus more readily when we have made this physical effort.
Many times we wonder how to pray and I’ve learned to pray scripture, which is God’s Word, over the concerns as I come across passages while doing my devotions and Bible study. Just simply insert a person’s name in the scripture, and pray it out loud. Also, don’t be afraid to freely call out names to the Lord and trust He knows and meets their needs.
All of our minds wander as we pray, so I’ve found it helpful to keep a notepad close by and jot down those “things to do” which pop into my mind as I’m praying, then go back and refocus on the prayer.
Our days can easily become hectic, and your prayer life will benefit when you commit to praying at a certain time of the day or during a specific activity such as walking. Yes, this requires some discipline, but find what works for your schedule and don’t be daunted by changes in this from day-to-day. Rest assured the Holy Spirit will guide your prayer life when we come before the Father committed to pray for one another.
Father God, please help me to remember to pray for people and needs you bring my way. I ask you to teach me to focus my mind and show me how and when to pray. Please grant me confidence in my prayer life as I seek being a better pray-er. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV): “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Ephesians 6:18 (NIV): “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
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