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Endurance Disciples: Prayer

I want to briefly re-visit our ongoing discussion on the spiritual discipline of prayer.  I'll start by asking, how is your prayer life going?  Have you been able to set aside some time and pray through A.C.T.S. a few times/week?  How has the LORD answered your prayers?  We would love to hear and celebrate answered prayer and invite you to share these via our Prayer Team comments wall.

This month, I wanted to pass along a few other ideas to consider as you pursue growth in your prayer life.  If you're like me, you have at times struggled with focus, especially during prolonged times of prayer.  Personally, I have an internal longing to be a man of prayer and to experience prolonged times of uninterrupted intimacy with the LORD through prayer on a regular basis.  However, I must confess that this does not come easy to me, and I am all too often battling my flesh in executing this desire.  That said, over the years I have learned a few things that have helped me.  I'll pass on a few of them below in the hopes that they help you.  None of them is a magic cure to a busy schedule and a distracted mind, but they have been helpful when exercised.

Schedule Prayer: It's tragic to admit, but if I don't schedule prayer, it won't happen, at least to the depth that I desire.  Prolonged, intimate, focused prayer, especially where I get quiet enough to hear the LORD, does not come easy to me and won't happen instinctively or accidentally.  There are simply too many other desires and responsibilities vying for my time.  Thus, like other important priorities, if I want to be sure it gets done, I have to schedule it.

Time It:  This may sound crazy and perhaps legalistic to some, but this actually helps me.  In some instances, this may prevent me from rushing and cheating this important time.  However, more recently I have found that this frees me rather than setting some arbitrary goal that I am forcing myself to obtain.  As an example, if I know I am going to spend 20 minutes in prayer, then hitting the timer actually eases my mind.  I don't have to worry about time.  I can simply pray, knowing that the timer will "protect" me from "under or over praying".  I've also been surprised how often as I set the timer, wondering how I will pray for "such a long time," the beep comes so much faster than I was ready for.  Of course, you don't have to stop with the timer, and you may find that experimenting with this idea gets to rolling to longer and longer intimate times with the LORD.

Choose the Right Setting:  I am distractible.  Noises and movement and interesting things to look at and activities draw my mind from the LORD.  They just do, and I know this about myself.  Thus for most of my intimate times of prayer, if I'm going to focus on the Lord and be quiet enough internally to hear, I must intentionally remove myself from distractions.  Frankly, it's hard enough to discipline my mind without added opportunities to drift, so why set myself up for added struggle?  For me to most often be successful, I intentionally find a quiet room or place where I know I won't be interrupted.  This is not to say I am not blessed by praying in nature, etc. (where there is also inspiration!), but I've got to be careful that I'm not in the middle of a prayer, and then... "Squirrel!"

Choose the Right Posture:  The Bible certainly gives examples of people praying in different postures, and I use a few of them (more on this next month).  However, for a while my go to has been kneeling, at least for my prolonged, scheduled appointments with God.  On the one hand, this helps with the above in terms of distractions.  More importantly however is what happens to my heart and mind when I kneel with my body.  As I begin to pray, I often reflect on what happened when men of the Bible met God.  Their response was always a humble and often fearful reverence as they were in the presence of such an awesome God!  I try to imagine what my posture would be like in such a situation.  How do I approach the King of all Kings?  Kneeling helps me not only honor the LORD, even as His adopted son, but also prepares me to dialogue with my Creator and Savior with the correct understanding of who He is and who I am.

I encourage each of you to think, pray, look for Biblical examples, and spend some time experimenting with various schedules, times, settings, and postures.  Determine which ones are helpful and which ones distract, and then implement those as you grow in your life of prayer.  I hope that what I've learned through my own experiences may bless you, but ultimately I desire for you to grow in your prayer life through your own experiences.  More tips will be coming next month, and I hope to hear from some of you regarding what has been helpful in your intimate times with the LORD. 

For God's Glory,

Chris

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