Concentrating on other people focuses attention
The Rev. Bill Woodard, pastor, West Side Presbyterian Church, 1024 Kasold Drive:
Jesus says in Matthew 6:32, "Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things."
If God already knows all that we need or want - then why pray? We are called to pray.
In Matthew 7:7, Jesus says, "Ask ... knock ... seek." We don't pray on our own behalf. We pray on behalf of others. It is the church (all Christians) praying through us. It is our being involved in others' lives for their welfare, just as a mother or father is concerned for their children and families and neighbors. If we have Christ in us, then our prayers will be concerns for others. After all, Christ was a servant to us and we are to be servants of all others, carrying and lifting up their concerns.
We keep from wandering by concentrating and focusing on others. One model that I use takes the form of a letter:
1. The salutation: Dear God or Gracious God or Mighty God or any such combination.
2. Praising and thanking God - for life, for Christ, for the day, for family, etc.
3. Lifting up petitions - our concerns for others.
4. The closing - 'In Christ' or 'In Jesus' name or another invocation of Jesus, and then "amen."
We are called to pray and pray often - for others.
- Send e-mail to Bill Woodard at email@example.com.
Prayer as conversation diminishes distraction
The Rev. Dan Nicholson, pastor, Lawrence Christian Center, 416 Lincoln St.:
Isaiah 26:3 says, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee."
It is much easier to keep our minds from wandering while praying if we view prayer as a conversation instead of a "religious exercise."
Prayer is simply "talking to God." When we are involved in any conversation, hopefully we will be aware of the other person talking back to us and not just our own words. Prayer should not just be for the purpose of "getting something" from God. Prayer is meant to develop fellowship and relationship with the one who loves us most.
I recommend that while you pray, you also keep your Bible open and read Scripture verses that are relevant to what you are talking about. Isaiah 43:26 tells us to "put me in remembrance; let us plead together; declare thou, that thou mayest be justified."
As we pray, we should put God in remembrance of his many wonderful promises to us and expect him to fulfill them. Prayer should also be filled with worship and thanksgiving to God for his many blessings in our lives. Finally, our minds were created to focus on one thing at a time. You must learn to focus on God when you pray.
Keep your mind focused on God while you pray and it won't "wander."
- E-mail Dan Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org.