Jesus often spent time praying alone. Throughout the Scriptures we can find pictures of men and women who would go up on a mountain, meditate on God’s Word, and pray. There is great benefit in sitting back, removing yourself from the commotion and distractions of life, and hear what God has to say in His Word, and speak to Him in prayer about what troubles you, confessing your sins, and giving thanks for His mercies.
This is true. I know it is true. But I must admit that I don’t find this a natural practice for me. It’s hard. So often I have so many things running through my head, that slowing down long enough to hear what God has to say and speaking to him, well, it just gets pushed down on the priority list.
It would be easy to go into a discussion about how we are too busy today, we have too many things coming at us, and that we don’t have time to sit down and smell the flowers. This is all true, but I think really misses the point. The point isn’t that we are so busy. The point, rather, is that we don’t want to hear God or speak to Him. Like Adam and Eve hiding from God in the Garden, we run from our conversations with Him because we fear His anger, we don’t want to disappoint, or even because we don’t want Him to know how much we hurt or how angry we are at Him.
So how do we break the cycle of isolation from God in prayer? Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me over the years, and I would love to hear yours as well:
- Keep it simple. Using devotional guides can be of great benefit, but don’t allow the process of meditation and prayer become more important than actually meditating on His Word and praying. If that means something very simple, like Portals of Prayer, great! If that means using something a little more extended like To Live with Christ or The Treasury of Daily Prayer, then that’s fine too. It is more important to develop the regular habit of praying than to have just the right system.
- Connect prayer to God’s Word. For Lutherans, when we pray it is in connection with hearing God in His Word. While I may pray alone, I am never really alone. Christ prays with me. It is always a holy conversation.
- Make a list. Maybe this is obvious, but don’t allow prayer to become so spiritual that you actually forget your own personality! I am a list guy. I am always writing lists. So if I’m going to remember to pray, and to pray for specific people or things, I am going to write it down. It’s that simple. If I don’t write it down, my own natural inclination toward busyness and distractions will drive the whole thing right out of my head.
- Remember that Christ prays for you even when you don’t pray. If you forget to pray for a day, be at peace! Christ prays for you even when you forget. Jesus is loving and forgiving, and longs to be in your presence. He will pray for you even if you don’t.
There are many things that could be said about the privilege of praying alone. God loves it when you pray to Him! He leaves to speak to you and to hear you. Trust that praying in Him and to Him is good, and will be to your great eternal benefit.
+God be with you+
From the February 2010 Messiah’s Messenger