You want to pray. You need to pray. You know you have to pray. BUT: there’s so much to do, so much to think about, someone to call first…
Have you ever experienced this battle with yourself?
And what about when you finally are there. You are ready to pray, but your mind will not shut down. Your thoughts keep wandering, even racing…
What do you do then?
Matthew 6:6 quotes Jesus saying:
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Jesus knew about the distractions we would face. He knew it wouldn’t be easy to let go of our to-do-lists. He knew how hard it would be to find a private place, to be on our own. He knew about the human mind, and how hard it is to shut it down and concentrate on something important.
Jesus told his disciples to “shut the door behind you.” We are living in a very noisy place. Everything and everyone is vying for our attention. Our minds are on overload. How can we even imagine some peace and quiet around us?
Here are a few things that helped me get to that quiet place:
- Plan for some quiet time. I have to be intentional about it. It won’t just happen. It helps me if I schedule quiet time as any other appointment or to- do task for the day.
- Plan for the mornings. I benefit most from my morning prayer times.
- Write out your prayers. First of all, writing keeps me concentrated on praying. I’m able to keep my mind focused on praying. Second, it’s great to have a record of prayers and to see how and when God answered them.
- Keep a note pad and a pen always close by for the times the mind won’t shut down. Every time a to-do thought pops up I jot it down and it stays on paper for later. This allows me to concentrate on my time with God knowing I can pick up my to-do items later.
- Shut the door! I remember times when the children were little and I would not get a minute to myself. The bathroom would eventually become my space to escape to. We seldom locked the bathroom doors, but when I did, the kids knew I was serious about wanting to be left alone. However, even that did not keep them from sitting down in front of the door and asking every few seconds, “Mommy, are you done yet? Can we come in now?” Whatever door you need to shut, do it. Again, you’d have to be intentional about it. Explain to family members your need for it and the benefit to you and everyone around you from the time spent in prayer.
Prayer is my lifeline. Here are a few Scriptures that have encouraged me to continue to be intentional about prayer:
“I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3
“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
“Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.” Psalm 103:1-4
“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Isaiah 65:24
“You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” John 14:13-14