“In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35 (NRSV)
I remember an old wingback chair from my childhood home. It belonged to somebody else in my family even before it made its way to my parents’ home, and it’s been re-upholstered so many times that it’s worn everything from a thick yellow brocade in the 1950s to a pink flame stitch in the 1980s.
It currently sits in my living room, living its best new life in freshly upholstered sky blue faux leather. When you’re sitting in it, you’re almost enveloped in blue.
It’s my prayer chair. And making my way toward it each morning was the first step to finding a rhythm in my lacking prayer life.
Mark 1:35 says of Jesus, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” This verse resonates with me because although I place importance on my family and my work, those things certainly don’t hold a candle to the miracle-working, sick-healing, masses-rallying wonder of Jesus. And even He needed to take quiet moments alone to pray.
Do you ever get distracted when you pray?
For me, the moment I sit down, I think of a reason I need to be up. The clothes need to be transferred from the washer to the dryer. A child wakes up early and wanders in. A social media alert dings and foolishly beckons my attention away. Not to mention that I feel guilty taking time to be by myself.
It’s different for everyone, but here are a few things I’ve found that help me keep a consistent prayer life:
- Designate a Prayer Chair: For me, it’s the blue chair, but for you, it could be the left side of your cozy sofa, your kitchen table or your back-porch swing. Having a consistent place to “report for battle” takes some of the guesswork out of the process. Hint: It might not be the first place you try. You may have to test out a few spots before finding one that feels right to you.
- Find a Dedicated Time: Early mornings work for me because they’re the only time I’m ever alone. For you, it might be your lunch break, right before bed or after the kids leave for school in the mornings.
- Start with Gratitude: It could be something simple, such as giving thanks for the warm blanket around you or the hot cup of coffee in your hands, but I’ve found that if I start there, the gratitude begins to flow to every area of my life.
- Candidly Confess: Lift the burdens weighing you down by confessing when you have fallen short, in big ways or small. Perhaps you inadvertently spoke harshly to a loved one or have let your selfish wants overpower the desire to help others.
- Humbly Ask: Although God knows all and sees all, ask Him humbly for what is important to you, whether to heal your sick friend, watch over a child, or guide important decisions in your life. Even though God knows the desires of our hearts, it pleases Him when we pray.
- Accept God’s Will Over Your Own: This might be the hardest part, especially if you’re a control freak. Leaving our humble requests at the feet of our Lord allows us to relinquish control and let God’s plan unfold. Our heavenly Father wants good gifts for us, as illustrated in Luke 11:11, “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?” (NRSV) As challenging as it can be, let’s trust that God wants what is best for us.
- Let Go and Live Free: I feel so free after my prayer time. I can face the day knowing I’ve placed my cares and struggles at God’s feet, mindful He is with me throughout the day and guiding my thoughts and decisions.
Do I have perfect attendance every day in my prayer chair? No, but it’s hard to walk by it in the morning without the beckoning call to sit a spell in the presence of God. Some mornings, my visit with God is short, and other days it’s lengthier, but I’m always glad I came.
Dear heavenly Father, please stir a desire in me to visit with You each day. Help me stay focused in my prayer time and avoid the daily distractions during my visits with You. Help me find the words to talk with You as a friend, and at the same time, see the awe and majesty of being able to sit in Your presence in prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Matthew 6:6, “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (NRSV)
Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (NRSV)
When life stops turning out how we planned, it’s easy to stop trusting His plan for us is good. But living in God’s will really is the best place to be. Our Thy Will Be Done six-week devotional can help you find God’s will when you’re waiting, when you’re afraid, when you’re disappointed and more. Click here to get your copy!
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
What are some good practices in your prayer life? What are some things you could change to strengthen your prayer life? Share your ideas in the comments section!
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