Prayer can be excruciating sometimes.
When I wake up in the morning, I don’t feel like praying. I feel like going back to bed, or just sipping on my caffeinated wake-up-juice. The effort required to pray feels enormous.
My heart feels cold and my prayers feel limp. I toss up a half-hearted “Lord help me,” and watch it fall back into my lap like a wounded bird. I try to focus my fuzzy mind, but the moment I achieve any semblance of concentration, my mind deserts me.
And so I find the advice of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to be tremendously helpful. Read the following very carefully:
You have to learn how to kindle a flame in your spirit, to warm yourself up, to give yourself a start. It is comparable, if you like, to starting a car when it is cold. You have to learn how to use a spiritual choke. I have found it most rewarding to do that, and not to struggle vainly. When one finds oneself in this condition, and that it is difficult to pray, do not struggle in prayer for the time being, but read something that will warm and stimulate you, and you will find that it will put you into a condition in which you will be able to pray more freely.
This practice has been a tremendous boost to my spiritual life. Rather than wading through distracted prayer, I let my prayers be propelled by what I am reading in scripture. I read a few verses, ponder their meaning and application, and then immediately pray based upon what I just read.
This morning I read the story of Jesus healing ten lepers. Only one, a Samaritan, came back to thank Jesus. And so I asked God to make me like the Samaritan leper – full of gratefulness for the mercy I’ve received.
By letting scripture direct my prayers, I’m able to concentrate more effectively. When my mind wanders I simply move on to the next verse. More importantly, I experience communion with God. The Spirit of God speaks to me through the Word of God, leading me to respond to God.
This is what gives my prayers a kick in the pants.
The floor’s open. What helps you pray more effectively?
+photo by kaibara87
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