If you’re anything like me you may have difficulty concentrating at times. Never is this more true for me than when I sit down to study my Bible, or when I decide to set aside time to pray. It seems like I’ll go into my bedroom, begin to talk to the Lord, and before I know what’s happened I’m folding the laundry that’s on my bed and using my prayer journal to make a to-do list. I don’t mean to do it, it just always seems to happen.
Paul talked about this in Romans 7:15. He said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” The Message version of this same passage says, “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes Paul, yes it is.
I’m not saying you can’t pray while doing laundry or making a to-do list (Eph. 6:18 says to pray always) but there is something to be said for making time and space for one-on-one intimate, personal time with God. Like a “date” if you will.
If you have a spouse, I’m sure you love talking to them as you’re making breakfast in the morning, walking the dog together, playing with the kids, etc. But it’s not quite the same as when the two of you set aside appointed time to intentionally connect, like for a date night. It’s times like that, when other things that could be taking up your time are set aside, that real intimacy happens. It’s the same in our relationship with God.
God expects us to pray intentionally – and we are to expect things to change when we pray! Prayer should never be passive. James 5:16 says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (emphasis is mine). So what does fervent prayer look like? How do we pray fervently? How do we pray single-mindedly? Intently. Intentionally.
It might look different for one person than it does for another. I once had a friend that would say things to God like, “I’m going to meet you at the coffee shop today at 3:30 so we can spend some time talking to each other.” She said every time she was intentional about creating space like this, God would speak something to her heart. For me, one thing that has worked well is keeping a special notebook where I write my prayers down. The physical act of writing simply helps me to focus.
Another great way to pray on purpose is by joining a group of people that pray together at an appointed time every day or week. WHWC has lot’s of small groups launching this week that will be doing exactly that. Also, August 19th will kick off our summer Week of Prayer. It’ll be a great opportunity to set special time aside to communicate with God, and give Him space to answer you as well.
However you choose to do it, purpose to set apart some special time this week to pray intentionally. You’ll be glad you did it!