Now, What Was I Praying?
Delight the Lord with uninterrupted conversation.
by BILL PATTERSON
SOMETIMES I LOSE focus while praying. I try to concentrate, but my thoughts stray to things other than talking with the Lord. On those occasions, I ask His forgiveness and begin our conversation again. But I don’t like being distracted.
The following keys have helped me maintain concentration. Perhaps you’ll find them useful too.
- Place. Keeping a regular place where you pray and read the Bible helps. After meeting with God at your holy place day after day, you will find a sacred atmosphere pervades it. That makes it easier to stay focused in prayer.
- Purity. Many people like to confess their sins before God and find His forgiveness before praying about other matters.
- Pray. Before beginning your quiet time with the Lord, why not lift two requests to Him? Ask Him to keep you from distractions and to help you count your time with Him as important.
- Presence. Being aware that the Lord is truly present helps you stay attentive to Him. You may want to place an empty chair beside you and imagine talking to the Lord seated there. After all, He is closer than one sitting beside you.
- Position. If you begin to lose focus, try kneeling, if your health allows. Kneeling is one of the biblical postures of prayer. It puts us in our right place — bowed before God. Lifting hands in prayer may help you. (See Ps. 28:2; 141:2.)
- Praises. Singing to the Lord puts me in the mood to pray. Often, I will pick up an old hymnal and leaf through the songs, offering them as my prayers to the Lord. This never fails to lift my spirits, put me into a prayerful mood, and suggest topics for which to thank the Lord. At other times, choruses help me grasp His presence and make the atmosphere more conducive for prayer.
- Petitions. You will be asked to pray for many, many people. I could not keep up with the requests until I began to write on index cards the names of people for whom I pray. Every day, I pray for family, goals, and my relationship with the Lord. On Mondays, I pray for extended family; on Tuesdays, for lost people; on Wednesdays, for missionaries and mission projects; on Thursdays, for friends; on Fridays, for people with special needs; on Saturdays, for government and governmental officials and for people who need to become active in God’s churches; and on Sundays, for my pastor and staff members, other pastors, editors of Christian publications, and others in ministries. This system reminds me to pray for those who matter to the Lord and to me.
- Powerful Word. As you read God’s Word, write down verses that strike your soul. Make them personal for your life, and pray them back to God. For instance, when I read 2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the LORD roam throughout the earth to show himself strong for those who are wholeheartedly devoted to him,” it became natural for me to pray back to God, “Lord, help me have a heart 100 percent given over to You.”
- Prayercise. Why not talk with the Lord while exercising? You may find that you talk with Him about different things when walking along the road or at the YMCA. Walking is also a good time to memorize Scriptures and to pray them back to the Lord.
- Pardon. If you have unforgiveness in your heart toward another, you inevitably find that person coming to mind and diverting you from prayer. Unforgiveness can block your concentration. Ask God to bless that person who has wronged you. He will. He will also bless you by freeing you from the prison of unforgiveness and enabling you to keep your mind “fixed” on Him. (See Isa. 26:3, NLT.) You may need to ask often. Over time, God will enable you both to forgive and to center on Him.
May these tips on staying focused in prayer keep you from the many distractions that can interrupt your time with the Lord. He is a good Lord. He loves you, and “the prayer of the upright is his delight” (Prov. 15:8).
BILL PATTERSON serves as director of missions for the Green Valley Baptist Association of Henderson, Kentucky. An award-winning writer, his articles have appeared in many publications. Bill and his wife, Debbie, find great joy in their six grandchildren.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (October 2017). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.