“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” Matthew 6:6 (MSG)
On Sunday, my Pastor told a story about a time when he was opening his heart up to his 3 year old daughter telling her how much he loved her and was blessed to be her Dad. She grabbed his facing pulling him closer and said, “Daddy, when do you think I can take my floaties off when I am swimming?”
This made me chuckle and wince a little! I thought to myself how often am I that little girl when I am sitting with God? How many times am I the distraction that keeps me from hearing what God is speaking to me?
Probably way more often than I’d care to admit. Prayer is not one of my gifts/strengths. Oh, I can intercede on the behalf of another, I can pray out loud well, but extended times of prayer between God and myself is often a struggle. I start off well. The first five minutes are completely focused. I am sitting totally engaged. Then BAM! I become all about “my floatie!”
The difficult thing is that the distraction is often disguised under the mask of godly activities I am doing. I will start thinking about a piece of artwork I am creating. Or, I will think about an idea I have for the Healing Thoughts website. Then my mind follows the floatie trail wherever it leads.
When I finally realize that I am sitting next to Jesus, yet completely ignoring His presence it is usually time for me to go work. It is clear, that I am my own worst distraction.
So, how do I stop being my own distraction.
- Actually commit to having prayer time with Jesus.
- Pray before I sit down for my quiet time.
- Set realistic goals for the length of my prayer time. Jumping in for 30 minutes didn’t initially sound unrealistic. But for me, it ended up being 25 minutes too long! I felt like a complete failure after that which led me to avoiding prayer time all together. Finally, I tried 5 minutes. Success! Slowly building up from 5 minutes became the goal.
- Learn when the godly activities that come to mind are the distraction and when Jesus actually means them to be the focus.
- Have a pencil and paper available (or for me: my phone and my Evernote writing app) within reach. If an idea about art or the Healing Thoughts website comes to mind, I can jot it down. If the thoughts are gone after doing that then they were a distraction. If the ideas continue to flesh themselves out in more detail in my prayer time then they are the actual focus of the quiet time.
Now for those who are naturally blessed to be able to pray for hours with ease, this probably sounds restrictive and too formulated. And for you, that would be true.
However, for those of us whose overactive “floatie” minds are easily distracted during prayer times, this is a wonderful way to embrace quiet time with the Lord!
The bottom line is that Jesus cherishes the time we spend with Him! He created us to be in communication with Him. So, our prayer times are gifts from Him to us. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that I want to receive, with open arms, this gift from Him!
My prayer is that you will enjoy your time with Jesus whether prayer comes easily to you or if you have to work at it a bit more.