Prayer is like oxygen for the Christian. Its our act of upward communication to God. Its how we speak to God and lay our burdens at his feet. But often times we are distracted during prayer. We allow the busyness of the day to hinder a fruitful prayer time. Here I offer some very practical steps for Christians to take in helping to ensure a focused time of prayer.
What doesn't matter when we pray.
1. The exact words we say
To be sure, when your speaking to the almighty creator and sustainer of the universe, one ought to speak with respect and reverence. However there are no "secret combinations" of words you can say to ensure God hears you. God always hears the prayers of His children. So go to him like a father and speak from the heart & mind. Passionately and intelligently.
2. The direction of our bodies
Don't worry about pointing north, south, east or west when your engaged in prayer. That doesn't matter to God and it shouldn't matter to us either.
3. The position of our hands
When I first learned how to pray (from watching TV) I thought in order for God to hear me I had to make a "Tipi" with my hands and place it just right under my nose and on my lips for God to hear me. Come to find out, that doesn't matter to God either.
4. Spoken or Silent
I am one who always advocates for people to learn to pray out loud. I think its beneficial to the one praying and to the people who may hear you pray. However there is no mandate in scripture that says we must pray out loud (with exception to overseers). Especially when we are in our prayer closets at home. Do what feels best and most fruitful for you.
What does matter when we pray?
1. That we have a broken and contrite heart as we come before God's throne.
Knowing that every ounce of grace and morsel of positive providence comes from God. All while understanding that we deserve
grace and positive providence. (Psalm 51:17)
2. That we pray "in-line" with God's will.
We ought not be praying prayers that are contrary to biblical truth. This is why it is so vital study the Word. We want to make sure that we are praying prayers that are consistent with God's nature and will. (1 John 5:14-15)
3. That our prayers are authentic and humble.
One of the worst things we can do is come to God with a boastful, proud or arrogant attitude. We must always remember that we were made from dirt and given our worth by God, not from our accomplishments. (Luke 18:9-14)
4. Pray Scripture
This has been one of the sweetest practices for me as a believer. Praying scripture back to God helps to reinforce our trust in God's promises and also causes us to memorize biblical truth. We know we can take God's word to the bank. So pray it back to him and claim its truth for yourself.
Practical tips for undistracted prayer time.
1. Create a prayer list
Try making a list of the things you feel are important to pray about. As you mature in prayer you will find that your list is ever growing & your dependance on God will grow along side it.
2. Figure out a consistent "quiet time"
My best and most fruitful seasons of prayer come in the wee hours of the morning. For me, thats the best time. That doesn't mean I don't pray throughout the day. But this means that my most intentional time of prayer is in the mornings.
3. Find your "hiding place"
I have the blessing of having an office. So I often pray in my office alone and unhindered. Before I had an office I would use a basement, attic or even a dining room as my personal hiding space. Some people go out into the woods to pray. Whatever floats your boat, but find a place to call yours when you pray.
4. Figure out your posture
Now, I know I said that posture doesn't really matter to God, but it doesn't mean its not important. I find that most people are more comfortable sitting as they pray over-against being on their knees. I personally feel that being on my knees helps to put me in my place mentally. Thus I tend to have sweeter prayer time that way. Try various methods and see what works for you.
5. Do your "prayer prep"
Go to the bathroom, eat that snack and turn your phone off before you try to have an unhindered season of prayer. All too often we have a surge in our gut or a ruble in our tummy just as we begin to pray. Take care of everything you can prior to going into your hiding place.
6. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Dont schedule 8 hours to pray if you have never prayed for more than 13 minutes straight before. Don't time yourself. Give yourself an hour but don't feel the need to stretch your prayer that long. You might find yourself praying things that aren't exactly biblical after a while.
Shout out to Mike Richard for prompting me to put some of these thoughts to paper.