“It is not a matter of time so much as a matter of heart; if you have the heart to pray, you will find the time.”
In the last prayer blast we looked at the first barrier many of us have when we attempt to pray: FEAR. As promised, and keeping with our whole series, today we’re talking about making TIME to pray…or the lack thereof.
2. I don’t want to take the time. It’s too hard to concentrate that long.
This barrier is a tricky one. In fact, as I write this I’m thinking about all the times I have tried and tried and tried to pray with little success. I have at times spent an hour and a half in my study attempting to commune with God, with great intentions mind you, only to have my mind wandering all over the place. Anybody relate??? When I finally snap out of it and look at the clock, I realize that 20 minutes has gone by and all I’ve gotten accomplished is saying HELLO to the Lord. This honestly has caused great angst and discouragement in my life of prayer.
So, yes, I’ve used the excuse that it’s too hard to concentrate that long. Now, I could tell you the true story of how I’ve had ADD since I was in 5th grade and that concentrating for an extended period of time is very difficult for me. But I’ve begun to realize that the above scenario where I lose myself for 20 minutes at a time while attempting to pray is quite a common occurrence amongst Christians from all different kinds of backgrounds. In other words, I’m not the only one in the “Daydreamer’s Academy.”
I don’t think that the serious lack of desire and passion in taking needed time away from the world to be in the presence of the Lord is only about lack of focus. I think it has more to do with our heart and attitude about prayer and maybe even about our life in general.
When was the last time you were deeply moved and passionate about something? When did you last feel your heart aching to pray for a certain person, a situation, a place that desperately needs the gospel? When was the last time you prayed and prayed and prayed…storming the gates of Heaven without looking at your watch or phone? When was the last time you truly believed that your prayers made a difference…in your life and in those around you? Our hearts are not naturally wired to long for things like this! That’s why we call prayer a spiritual discipline, remember? Look at what D.A. Carson says about people and their hearts,
“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”
I’ll tell you, it’s pretty convicting thinking about the age-old saying, “You make time for the things that are most important to you!” Do I really? I’ve said many times that I desire to be a man of faithfulness and prayer. But how often do my actions live up to the words coming out of my mouth? How often have worldly distractions gotten in the way of the intimacy I could have in the presence of the Lord Almighty?
Do we truly desire God above all else, hating sin and anything that would separate us from His presence? Let’s think about this a little differently. We’ve been given the gift of time by a loving Father, through Jesus Christ. Christ, the great mediator between God and man has rescued us from darkness and sin and brought us into the light of salvation by his blood. We have been granted eternal life and the forgiveness of our sins. What an absolutely incredible gift!
Due to what Christ accomplished on the cross, we are continuously being reconciled to God- brought back into full relationship and fellowship with Him. Every sin, every piece of guilt, every ounce of shame, every horrible action or thought is being completely renewed and brought into submission under the lordship of Christ. There’s no time for excuses. No time for feeling false guilt and shame. No time for feelings of inadequacy!
It’s time now to rejoice. It’s time to seek God just as you are. It’s time to be so enthralled with the power of the gospel that the only thing left on your lips is praise. It’s time to yield control and fear, time to intercede for others to the Father, time to petition God for family, friends, co-workers, time to confess your brokenness and be filled with The Only One who can heal that brokenness for you.
Time is a gift we’ve been given from a gracious Heavenly Father. And, in light of eternity, it is short lived here on this earth. So, what will it take for you to begin a more disciplined and consistent time in prayer? What if all it took was to be a bit more creative and interactive…so you could focus more?
Maybe you need to go on a prayer walk a few times a week. This is a great way to express thanksgiving and adoration, or even to devote the time you have to seek God’s will on a certain decision. Maybe, like me, you need to get in the habit of praying out loud even when you’re alone. That helps me stay on task. At times, I’ve even put an empty chair right in front of me in my study, picturing God sitting there with me as I talk to Him. Maybe you need a written devotional that gives guidelines for prayer. Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship by Kenneth Boa is one that I highly recommend. A journal is a great exercise in writing out your prayers and praises to the Lord. Then you have a written record of how God answered your requests.
The key is to find a creative outlet that helps you focus and begin to love spending that time you get with the Lord in prayer. Let me know what creative elements you use in order to keep your prayer life vibrant and fresh. I love hearing new ideas that have worked as we all aspire to grow ever closer to the heart of God Himself. It certainly is time well spent.
Clayton J. Elliott
Pastoral Ministries and Prayer, Kontaktmission USA
clay@GoKMUSA.org (731) 217-1741
Here are two recent prayer requests from KM missionaries.
KM missionaries working in Brück (Brandenburg), Germany tell us “God has been blessing our worship services with steadily increasing attendance over recent years. Please pray for God’s guidance and blessing as we invest more of our strength in these services.”
A KM missionary team working on Skopelos Island, Greece request “Please pray that we will courageously be light to the people of the island and that they will experience and receive God’s love through us.”