If you’re like me, you often struggle to keep your mind focused while you pray. Your prayers may go something like this,
“Father, thank you for today. Thank you for giving me another day to serve you and glorify your name. I praise you for the many blessings that you have bestowed upon me in Christ. I need to remember to take out the trash before I get to work. Sorry God. I pray that today you will help me live out the truths of your Word. I can’t forget to go to the store after work and get salad for dinner tonight.”
Does that sound familiar? Hopefully I’m not alone here in my struggle to maintain focus while praying. If this is you, I have three ways that have helped me tremendously in staying focused while praying and I hope they will help you too.
Journal Your Prayers
I know this might sound odd. Josh, are you asking me to keep a diary? Absolutely. There are great benefits to keeping a journal of your prayer requests. First, when you write your prayers you are forced to slow down and think through what it is that you are putting on paper. When you journal your prayers you are able to see the words that are being written and this helps you maintain your thoughts as you continue to pray.
A second benefit of journaling is that you have a detail log of your prayers. I have prayer journals that go back 8 years! It’s amazing to open them up and flip through them from time to time and see how faithful God has been at answering them. I can go back to journals from the time I was dating my wife and see my prayers that God would continue to keep the veil over her eyes so that she would stay with me! I can see times of depression and see how the Lord has been faithful and good to me in these times.
Journaling prayers is a good way to stay focused in what you are saying, but it is also a great tool to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in your life.
Pray Out Loud
If I am not journaling, I am typically praying out loud. When I pray out loud, my mind stays focused on what I am saying and I am less likely to go down a rabbit trail. Praying out loud forces me to hear my thoughts and keeps me on track. It also allows me to hear my heart. When I pray out loud I can hear what I am praying and that reveals my heart. This is convicting at times, but also a time of great joy.
Pray God’s Word
Have you ever thought about praying God’s Word back to Him? The next time you open up your Bible to study, think through passage. What truths from this passage of Scripture cause adoration, conviction, and thanksgiving? Pray God’s Word back to Him. This also helps you if you are struggling with what to pray.
These are simple, yet often overlooked encouragements in our prayer lives. There are many more tools that can be used in staying focused during prayer, but these are the three that have helped me the most in recent years.
If you are struggling with prayer I would encourage you to go read The Valley of Vision. The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers. They are divided into themes that will aid you as you think through praying. These are helpful if you are praying out loud, journaling prayers, and praying God’s Word. They are also a great resource for your devotion time. You can find The Valley of Vision Here.
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Soli Deo Gloria