Two Weeks! We have now been on this journey of prayer for the past two weeks. Intentionally repeating the Lord’s prayer each morning and evening has been a unique challenge. Not because I can’t remember the words but because I know them well enough to get lost as I’m praying them. I begin to pray and my mind starts to wander. I am very confident that I have some level of A.D.D. or at the least, I have enough of an active imagination that it is easy to allow it to wander. When I’m in crisis, I can absolutely focus my mind on prayer but it is when things seem to be going smoothly, that my attention is much more of a challenge.
So how do you combat the wandering mind when you are praying? First, I keep a list. My mom used to keep a prayer notebook. I am certainly more of a techy personality, so I just keep a series of notes in my smartphone. I have a list for personal/family, one for the church, one for the staff, one for our small group, and another for our city and nation. When I hear of a prayer request, I put the date in my notes and list the request so that I do more than say, “I’ll pray for you” and actually pray for that person and that request. It not only reminds me to pray but it also reminds me to ask for updates on the prayers I’m praying. I expect God to answer, so I want to know how He is answering. That is my system. Create your own, but make sure you stay focused as you pray to your Heavenly Father.
Another helpful step is to pray the scriptures. We’ll talk about that more in the weeks to come, but if you simply take some time reading in the book of Psalms, you will find words of praise, gratitude, and petition that you are able to repeat. If you think that may sound a bit odd, I would draw your attention to the last words of Jesus on the cross. When Jesus was at His most desperate hour of need, He was praying the Psalms.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46 is from Psalm 22:1
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” – Luke 23:46 is from Psalm 31:5
“It is finished!” – John 19:30 is from Psalm 22:31b
That last one is translated in Psalm 22:31 as “He has done it”. The Greek word used in the Gospel of John can be translated finished or accomplished. I would argue that Jesus is completing Psalm 22 because He has done what God asked. If praying the Psalms was good for Jesus, it is good for us too.
King David kept a prayer journal. I would encourage you to do the same. Write your requests down, pray for them regularly, follow up, and see what God has done.