I saw this question on a church sign. "If your job was to pray, would you be unemployed?" This is not an accusation directed at anyone, but an observation I have made of my own prayer life. A recognition of how often I am quick to reply, “I’ll pray about that” or “You are in my prayers”? Then, busyness or distraction sets in and that commitment I made sometimes slips from my mind. I don’t mean to forget or lose focus, but it happens. When a prayer request is made, I naturally want to say yes. It’s an automatic response to a need that’s been brought to my attention. Again, let me be clear. I’m bringing this subject up for a reason - because I’m guilty. Yet, I’ve spoken with many of my friends who say they are guilty, too. Perhaps you've been there too. How then can we commit to being “rooted in prayer”; following through with the promises we’ve made to pray for needs outside of our own, for indeed they are promises. Here are a few suggestions that I hope will be helpful to you.
Schedule a time you know you can commit to prayer.
Setting aside a time to devote to prayer can help discipline our mind to it’s importance and focus us on praying in the midst of life's distractions. I don’t want to recommend to you to choose morning or night because each of us is different. You may need to experiment and find the right time for you. But I do know that devoting a daily time to prayer works if you pick a time that you can, and will, live with.
Pray throughout the day.
It’s important to set aside time to pray, but it’s also important to live a life of constant prayer. You can pray whenever and wherever you are (isn’t that a great blessing!) and especially when you’re making an important decision. If we only pray at a certain time each day, we are limiting God to our schedule. Reaching out to God in praise or to share your joy or to ask for His guidance will fill your days with a new sense of intimacy with the Father. Living in prayer will help you stay committed to prayer - for others and ourselves.
Clear your mind.
If you are anything like me, there are a lot of competing thoughts in your head. I have set aside the time, but am I really committing that time to prayer? Or do other things creep in? I have learned a good way to focus is to take anything that’s on my mind to Christ. Just talk to him, ask for guidance on what I should be doing and what I shouldn’t. Getting these burdens and concerns off my mind frees me up to pray for others whom I’ve committed to join with in their concerns. And, turning off your phone and praying in a quiet place creates an environment where you can meet God separated from potential interruptions.
View prayer as a gift of God’s grace.
For me, the more I sin, the less I pray. Perhaps this is true for you. It’s important to remember that we live in God’s grace. The Father wants to hear from us. He is ready to have us confess our sins and be forgiven. The freedom we experience by confessing our weaknesses and shortcomings will help motivate us to a more consistent prayer life.
What works for you?
Share and comment on what you have found helpful in making prayer a consistent part of your daily life.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Collosians 2:6-7 (ESV)
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.