Today’s guest blogger is Anna Schaeffer, my administrative assistant at Southeastern Seminary. Anna is a Master of Arts in Ministry to Women graduate, and she is the author of All of This. I encourage you to read her words about prayer.
Recently, I had a deep talk with my sister as she and I took a road trip together. There we were, solving the world’s problems, when before I realized it, I’d redirected us into a completely different conversation. About putt-putt.
I wish I could say that’s abnormal, but I’m the kind of person whose mind runs a thousand miles a minute in at least that many directions. That serves me well as a writer who creates plot lines and in a job where I juggle multiple tasks at once, but it can often make conversations challenging.
It also means that wrangling my brain to have quality time with God can be tough. My thoughts during prayer don’t necessarily veer toward mini-golf, but if I’m honest, I can become frustrated with how difficult it is to quiet my mind.
So, like the administrative assistant I am, I wrote a list. Here are six disciplines I incorporate into my prayer time in order to gain perspective and focus my heart:
Acknowledge who God is. God doesn’t need to be reminded of His role in the universe, but we sure do. Talk to God about who He is: the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator who designed you on purpose, with a purpose. When you pray, sit in awe of who’s listening.
Acknowledge who you are. We’re sinners who have no right to enter God’s presence, but we’ve been saved by grace through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Rescued. Chosen. Redeemed. Adopted as God’s own. Praise God for the gospel.
Pray Scripture. This goes beyond reciting the Lord’s Prayer, though that’s a powerful prayer. Pray a Psalm when you’re in distress or when you’re filled with joy. Pray Paul’s prayers in the epistles for your own church. There’s something powerful about praying God’s inspired, inerrant words back to Him.
Pray verbally. Often when I’m alone with God, I pray out loud. This reminds me that I’m in very real communication with my Creator, and hearing my part of the conversation helps me focus on it.
Pray through your pen. Even if you don’t journal, write out your prayers. Don’t feel like you have to channel your inner psalmist – this is just for you and your God. The practice slows you down, increases your concentration, and creates something for you to look back on in the days ahead when you need a reminder of God’s faithfulness.
Listen. A conversation involves more than one participant. If you’re feeling frazzled when you pray, maybe it’s time to simply be in God’s presence for a while, listening to Him and hearing what He has to say in the Word He’s already given us.
What about you? How do you focus your heart in prayer?