Some Thoughts on Prayer

Kay, over at Musings of an English Muffin, wrote this the other day:

I struggle with prayer. When you’re a mother of young children, it’s quite difficult to carve devotional time out of the day. Early mornings don’t work because as soon as my mattress creaks because of me sitting up, at least one, maybe two of the little ones hears it and comes in.

I’ve settled into a habit of evening prayers, and that’s no bad thing, but I find myself afflicted with a reluctance to pray, and it happens every single time. Yet without fail, once I start to pray, I carry on for a reasonable amount of time and it’s a great blessing.

Prayer being a blessing is no surprise, of course. But am I alone in the wrestle beforehand, be it shopping lists springing to mind or sudden doubts about my standing before God?

No, Kay, you’re not the only one. You are joined by many, many brothers and sisters who struggle in “focusing” our minds during a time of prayer.

I have no doubt that we ought to be able to focus our minds some of the time, But I don’t think it’s always going to be possible. First, our minds are often prone to wander in their thoughts, even when praying. You start praying about work and that reminds you of the project that’s due and your part of it isn’t ready yet and if only your co-worker would have gotten his part done earlier and then there was that special staff meeting they called and o-o-h that manager, he makes me so mad sometimes. Oh, sorry Lord, I forgot where I was.

Second, there are just so many distractions: radios, TVs, iPhones, cell phones, home phones, chat rooms, Facebook and Twitter and the newspaper and … well, you get the hint. And I didn’t even mention spouses or children or other people.

Third, the devil knows what we’re up to and he will try to nail us to the wall while we pray. He’ll whisper in your ear how unworthy you are to be trying to approach God. Why you can’t even let your mind focus for 60 seconds; who do you think you are? And what must God think of you? Pathetic!

I’ve been reading, A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller. It’s a wonderful book and is helping me a great deal. In the opening portion, Miller teaches that when we pray, we should become like a child. This means, that in our prayers, we ought to remember how to play. Little children, when they play don’t sit for hours with just one toy. More often, they’re here, there and everywhere, playing with all kinds of toys. When we pray, we should come, but not fret if our mind wanders. Instead, we should follow our minds, letting those “distractions” and other thoughts become our prayer requests before the Lord.

This isn’t easy for me. I like organization. I like to focus. I’m not good at multi-tasking. However, I’m learning that it’s okay, from time to time, to take a long, wandering prayer walk.

How about you? What “style” works better for you when you pray?

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