by Cliff Pace, Senior Pastor

Do you make time to pray? With busy schedules and constantly accessible technology/entertainment, many people allow things to crowd out a much needed prayer time. But making time to pray is only half the battle; the other half is making that time meaningful and productive.

Let's be honest: if you don’t make prayer time meaningful, you won’t make time for it very long. The key to this time being meaningful is staying focused on the task. I (Cliff) am the worst at staying focused when I pray. My mind wanders. I think about phone calls to return, emails to send, hospital visits to make, books to read, and sermons I need to write.

Our prayer time should not be something that we dread; it should be a time we welcome as much as we welcome bottle of water when we are thirsty or our favorite meal when we’re hungry. Here are three keys that help me stay focused when I pray, and I hope that they will help you as well. 

1. Remember what God did to make it possible for you to spend time with Him.

God loves me, and He sent His Son to die for me so that I might have the privilege of knowing Him. We naturally want to spend time with those who love us and those we love. Considering God's great love for us helps turn prayer into a relationship instead of just a rote action. Through prayer we express our dependence upon Him, and through this acknowledgment of our dependence, God answers according to His divine sovereignty. This relationship and dependence was modeled by Christ during His earthly ministry.  If Jesus was dependent upon His Father, how much more are we? 

2. Set aside a place to pray.

I have several places actually. One is in Nicaragua, one is in my study next to my office at the church, and one is at home. These are places where I try to minimize distractions. My father-in-law taught me this: "Have a place where you can go to meet with God, and where you can get alone with Him. I turn off my phone, the radio, the television, and straighten papers and books so that things are neat in this area. This helps me focus and keep my on Him rather than something else."

3. Make a daily list, and stick with that list.

My list is categorized according to my prayer process. First I worship by reading Scripture and singing. This prepares my heart for the confession of any sin in my life. (Some days this time lasts longer than others.) 

Next I intercede for others. I make it a habit to pray for my church family on their birthdays. I pray for those that are sick physically, those who have material needs, and those who need salvation. I try to pray for people by name, verbally, when I can.

Then I make my requests for myself. It is good to ask God for what you need, but if you find yourself spending all of your prayer time just asking God to provide for you, you may need to spend more time confessing the sin of selfishness. (I have learned this the hard way!)  

Lastly, I thank the Lord for His goodness, my salvation, my calling, His provision, and for hearing my prayers.

What other ways have you found to better keep your focus during your prayer time?  Share below in the comments!

There is so much more that could be said, so if you want to know more feel free to email me and I will elaborate further. God bless you for praying and may you experience Him more fully as you pray!