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Too Busy for Prayer?

Posted by Cinda On March - 17 - 2013

“I ALWAYS FORGET TO PRAY.”
contemplation8Huh? How does someone forget to pray? More than likely, it’s that they don’t want to pray (due to time and schedule pressures, feelings of inadequacy to pray in comparison to the way others pray, etc.) or they have little regard for the power of prayer, or never experienced its potential. In either case, it’s basically a problem of FAITH! Since we know that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17) we must discipline ourselves to study God’s Word and allow Jesus (Who is the Word), to speak to our hearts. I am reminded of the title of a book by Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline, the Glad Surrender. Sometimes, we must discipline ourselves daily to read our Bibles and pray. Once this discipline has been established, soon it will become the “glad surrender”, something we look forward to doing, rather than “having to do”. Something we truly miss when it’s not a part of our day. But, when fellowship with God through His Word and prayer truly becomes a priority, be ready for a most incredible journey, one that is guided by the Holy Spirit, Himself. It’ll be a glorious, supernatural transformation like no other. You won’t want to miss it!!!

“I’M SO TIRED, I GO TO SLEEP!”
 The most obvious help to overcome sleepiness while praying is to not wait until the end of a long, hard day… almost an afterthought somewhere between brushing teeth and shutting off the light. Pick a time of day (even if it’s only five minutes to start with) when you’re awake and aware. Many people feel the morning hours are the best for them. Late risers might try going to bed a bit earlier and setting their alarm half an hour earlier.

Keith Miller says in A Taste of New Wine, “I began to see as I never had, the relationship of my prayer life to my physical and emotional life. A large glass of hot water and a few minutes of regular exercises just before one’s prayer time each morning can change the whole climate of one’s relationship with God and with other people. Because we are to come to Him with our whole lives … not just our ‘spirit’.”

life“I HAVE TOO MANY THINGS ON MY MIND…”
and, this keeps me from settling down to pray! Keith Miller (A Taste of New Wine) addresses this problem directly and in an easy to understand way.

“For a long time I had been disturbed about the problem of a wandering mind during my time of prayer. I would be trying to pray and suddenly my mind would jump to a business appointment I needed to make. For years I had forced these things out of my mind to get back to ‘spiritual things’. But now, thanks to another Christian friend, I began to jot them down and then go back to prayer. I was at last realizing that God is interested in my TOTAL LIFE and that these things which came into my mind during my time of prayer might be significant things for me to do, or places for me to go. This also made it easier for me to get my mind immediately back to my other prayers. Sometimes a vision of someone I resented would come floating into my prayers or some situation that I did not want to think about. Instead of suppressing it, I began to offer the person or the thing immediately to God in prayer, asking Him to make my thoughts about this person or situation more like His. I began to keep a list of people for whom I wanted to pray. And, before I knew it, I discovered that God was touching more and more of my life through this time of prayer. I realized by experience that the Incarnation means that God has made the material world of people and things His concern and that we must make it our concern for Him.”

What does all this mean for me? It shows us that it does no good to struggle with our distracting thoughts. As Keith’s sharing illustrates, there is something positive we can do about a wandering mind! Instead of fighting these thoughts, saturate them with prayer!

“I CAN’T EXPRESS MY THOUGHTS PROPERLY.”
contemplation1God knows what we need even before we ask for it. When we have no idea how to pray, the Holy Spirit prays within us. Paul tells us that Jesus lives to “make intercession for us.” With the Father already knowing our thoughts, Jesus praying for us constantly, and the Holy Spirit praying within us “with sighs and groans too deep for words”, why should there be any question about forming our prayers from what is in our hearts? Actually, we make all our prayers to the Father, through Jesus Christ, His Son, in the power of the Spirit.

We are told to make our request known to God … for our sake, not His. We need to get used to asking God to supply all our needs, as He said He would. Here is the element of trust. If we don’t ask, it shows us that either we think we can do it all ourselves (which is obviously not so, or we don’t believe that God is willing or able to grant our petitions. It could, therefore, boil down to the question of faith to see if we are truly “feeding” on the Word of God.

Basically, a good rule is to look up references to prayer (Old Testament as well as the New Testament) so we can get a feel for how one approaches God and what one says. Praying some of the Psalms (for some, the Good News Bible or The Message are easier to understand for this type of reading) is a helpful way to get started. Studying the Lord’s Prayer is excellent, also, as well, as Jesus’ prayer found in John 17. (You might want to get W. Phillip Keller’s book, A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer especially if you take time to sit down and “re-write” it to God in your own words… making it personal.

God doesn’t want vain repetitions, wordy, showy prayers. He wants honesty. Simplicity. Believing Jesus’ words that “he who has seen me has seen the Father”, we can call upon Him, realizing that He is with us at all times. And, by the Spirit within us and speaking to God in Jesus’ Name, (as affectionately and trustingly as we would to our own father, mother, friend, or other loved one), we will know that it’s not so much the words we use, but the sincerity in our hearts. Even if we don’t “feel” like praying, it’s better to go to the Father and confess that and thank Him that He hears us anyway, despite our feelings, than it is to not pray at all.

Note: The Good News Bible and The Message are good paraphrase versions of the Bible for casual devotions, but for a more in-depth study of God’s Word, we recommend a more literal translation, such as the New American Standard Bible, or something similar.

“I’M NOT SURE HOW TO GO ABOUT IT.”
If some of the previous thoughts haven’t helped much, there are plenty of good books and pamphlets available. But, remember this… praying is something that should be as natural as talking to a friend, but it is also something that is learned. (Remember, Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. Luke 11:1) How do we acquire and develop a sense and understanding of music? The real sense of music will only come when we cross that threshold and surrender ourselves to the discipline of study and appreciation of the art.

The more we pray, we soon find out that prayer has meaning. Read the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14. Read also Matthew 7:7-11; Luke 18:1-8. And, read our Lord’s prayer in distress in Luke 22:39-46. Then, John 17. This chapter is truly profound. As you read, grasp the absolute love and compassion Jesus has for those who have placed their faith in Him, and the amazing relationship Jesus has with His Father.

Not sure how to go about it? Seek God through His Word, the Bible. Doing this, you come to know God and His character. Then, open your heart to Him and talk to Him as you would your best friend. As you grow in your spiritual walk, your prayers will become more and more Christ-focused and less on yourself. Although, God always wants us to share everything that is important to us. Everything that concerns us. Trust Him. He will meet you at your point of need! He loves you!

prayer07BOTTOM LINE? Prayer is conversation with God. When you have conversation with another person, you don’t do all the talking. You also listen. We praise God, thank Him, ask His guidance, request things for ourselves and others, make confession of our sins and shortcomings, and then we read His Word. We listen to that “still, small voice within,” or hear a sermon, or talk with a Christian brother or sister… in order to listen to what God has to say to us. There IS growth in understanding the effectiveness of prayer.

There is “canceling” prayer where we’re actually asking for the opposite of what we need (without realizing it), and there is “affirming” prayer, which comes with knowing what the Bible says about God’s will and our authority in prayer as Christians. But that goes beyond the scope of these thoughts. Throughout the New Testament, there are statements of what we have already as Christians and our position in the eyes of God. In the whole Bible, there are 7,000 promises of God to us. The only way to pray affirmatively and effectively is to “get serious” about Scripture, God’s Word.

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