Three Things to Help Focus
The sun is just coming up, the sky is a beautiful palette of yellow, gold, and a bluish/purple hue where the rays of the sun are peaking through the clouds. You’re walking along the sandy beach shore, isolated from people and traffic. The waves are singing a rhythmic melody as they crash along the shore. It is so quiet and peaceful. Perfection. Just you and God.
As you stroll along overwhelmed and surrounded by the magnificent beauty, you and God talk and talk, about everything and about nothing. By the time the sun has fully risen, you’ve prayed about everything and everyone, Peace and contentment fill your soul.
Does this describe your prayer time? It certainly doesn’t describe mine. While it might be my goal to spend enough quality time with the Lord in prayer as I start my day, or at any time of the day really, it rarely happens for me. I have the best intentions but often find myself snatching minutes here and there during my busy day whenever and wherever I can find a few uninterrupted minutes. When I fall into bed at night, exhausted, I find myself wondering “did I remember to pray for this person or that circumstance?”
Now that I’m retired, I’ll admit I am able to find more days where I can spend a longer period of uninterrupted time in prayer. However, I still found myself wondering if I remembered everything I needed to remember during my prayer time. If you have the same trouble, let me share a few steps that have helped me develop a more productive prayer time.
1. When someone asks you to pray for them, pray for them immediately. Don’t wait, thinking you’ll do it later. If you are with them in person, pray for them right there. Not only will they be assured that you take their request seriously and that you will pray for them, you will not feel guilty due to forgetfulness. If they are not with you, pray whenever it is brought to your attention. You can still make a note to pray for them later, but if you pray when you first hear about it, you at least know you’ve done it.
2. Write in a journal or take notes. I had a friend that used to say “your memory is only as good as the palest ink.” In other words, write it down so you don’t forget. Sometimes I write out my prayers, like I’m writing a letter to God. Other times I use words or phrases to help me stay focused and remember what I’ve prayed for. I write down Bible verses that speak to each circumstance and/or that I can specifically pray for certain people. I also write down when God has answered a prayer. Very important. It’s enlightening to look back and see how God has answered prayers.
3. Make a schedule. We sometimes don’t have enough time during the day to pray for everything. Make a schedule with a focus for your prayers each day. It does not have to be set in stone; you can still be flexible. However, it might surprise you how helpful it will be to keep you on track and in reassuring you that you’ve remembered to pray for everything. Make up one that is easiest for you to remember. I’ve come up with the following weekly plan, using the first letter of the day to help remind me what my focus for that day will be.
• Daily – Praise and Adoration – Listen. Remember to praise God every day for who He is and what He has done in your life. At the end of your prayer time, make sure you have spent time “being still” and listening to what the Holy Spirit might be telling you.
• Sunday – Sabbath, sick and unsaved. Pray for the worship services (pastor, song service, message, decisions, etc.) Also take time to pray for any of those who are sick and those needing salvation. There are different types of sickness—physical and spiritual. Pray for those in need of both types of healing.
• Monday – Marriage & Ministry. Pray for your spouse and your marriage relationship. Pray for others and their marriages. In addition, pray for how God might use you to minister to others. Is there a ministry you are involved in or that you are feeling led to become involved in? Pray about it.
• Tuesday – Tabernacle. Pray for your church: your pastor and his family, those in leadership, members, church finances, missions, etc. This is a great time to pray through your church prayer list If your church offers one.
• Wednesday – World Affairs, Military, Law enforcement, Government Officials. Focus today on those who are putting their lives on the line defending our country, keeping our towns and cities safe, and taking care of government business. Remember, the Bible tells us to pray for those in authority, even if our vote didn’t put them in office, as long as they don’t go against Biblical principle we are to support them in prayer. I suppose if they don’t follow Biblical principle we need to pray even harder that they might come to know the saving grace of our Lord and Savior!
• Thursday – Thanksgiving. Spend today just thanking God for being who He is, the blessings He has given you, any prayers He has answered, and the fact that He is with you in every situation, good or bad.
• Friday – Family & Friends. Pray for members of your family, friends and acquaintances. (It may help to write a list that you can use each week to remember everyone.)
• Saturday – Spiritual Walk. Pray for your personal walk with the Lord. Turn over any area of your life that you are holding onto. Seek his guidance in any area you feel lacking. Although I recommend staying on top of any unconfessed sin by seeking repentance daily, spend more time searching your heart for any sins you haven’t confessed and turn them over to the Lord.
Make your own schedule and plan of attack for making the most of your prayer time.
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Timothy 2:1 (NLT)