I know the Bible tells us that we're supposed to pray, and I really would like to pray more, but I always get distracted and I don't really know where to start. - Preoccupied Pray-er
A: I can't tell you how many times I've decided that I wanted to pray more, so I'd set my alarm to go off an hour earlier than normal only to hit snooze until my normal wake-up time or wake up, pray for a few minutes, and drift back to sleep. On the rare occasion I actually woke up enough to put together an intelligible prayer, it would go something like this "I love You, Lord. Bless my parents, bless my brother, bless my friends, help me to have a good day today...um... I still love You. I still have 59 minutes left, so bless some missionaries, um..." Not exactly the most effective prayer ever prayed, right?
It turns out prayer might not be as easy as it looks.
However, prayer is important. In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says "Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of the Spiritual life." Prayer is our method of communication with the Creator of the universe. Prayer allows us to bring our requests before a good and loving Father who loves us.
Let's take a look at some ways to simplify this prayer thing:
Pray like Jesus. When Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV), He was trying to teach the disciples how to pray.
9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."
Jesus makes prayer look really easy. He calls on the Lord, He asks that the kingdom of God would come on earth, for what He needs, that we'd be forgiven as we forgive, and that we'd be delivered from temptation. All of these are excellent areas to focus on when we pray.
Make a list. Even though we mean well, sometimes we forget the people and things we want to pray for. It's helpful to make a list of the things in our own lives, people, and issues that we want to pray about. A list can help you stay focused on the Lord and what you're praying for. Don't forget to take time while you're praying to let God search your heart. Make room for the Lord to show you areas of your life that aren't pleasing to Him. Let Him show you what is pleasing to him. Pause to tell the Lord how much you love Him.
Write it down. It can also be really helpful to write down what we pray for and when our prayers are answered. When we are in need of something big, it can be really encouraging to take a look back over our lives and see how many times God has answered our prayers. Writing things down can also help you stay focused.
As you pray, remember that prayer really is simply talking to God. You don't have to use any fancy language. He speaks your language. Talk to Him in your own words. Prayer is the way to let Him know what's on your mind - what you're thinking and feeling. Practice staying quiet and waiting to hear what He has to say back to you.
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