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Are you connected to God through prayer? Or do you feel an ever-growing distance with the Father you know, but can’t seem to find the time to nurture a relationship with?
My youngest son recently went off to college. And with all the things we as parents are concerned about when it comes to cell phones and technology, I’m so thankful for texting and FaceTime. I get to talk to my son and actually see his face. What an incredible blessing. I may not be able to look at him across the living room, but he doesn’t feel so far away.
But do I realize the same is true of my loving Father? And even better—He really is present with me, right where I am—anytime and anywhere? Why do I take that for granted, then?
In the first of this series, How to Stay Connected to God Through His Word, we considered ways to make reading and studying Scripture a consistent part of our lives. But alongside that comes another essential: connecting through prayer. The two go hand-in-hand.
The Problems of Prayer
Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Sounds like a bit much for a mom, doesn’t it? But actually Paul goes even further when he says,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
But how is this even possible? As homeschooling moms we are busy juggling the needs of our husbands, children, homes, and other commitments. Distractions abound. And honestly, we are tired or even exhausted most days. Prayer is simple, yet many of us seem to struggle with it. Our minds wander, we don’t know what to say, and it becomes one more thing to do. Truth is, sometimes we just don’t want to. Maybe we are angry or disappointed, and like a pouting child, we give God the silent treatment. Or we put on a happy face and go through the motions of prayer. But we feel a growing distance.
Dear Mama, 0ur Abba wants us to connect with Him because He loves us. He wants us to know Him and learn to rely on His Spirit. To realize, He is with us even though we can’t see Him with our eyes.
He wants an intimate relationship with us. And He wants us to know Him as God.
Simple Solutions to Stay Connected
Yes, we all have problems when it comes to prayer, but those problems don’t have to keep us from a growing, vibrant relationship with our loving Father.
Problem 1: Struggling to Stay Focused
Dug, the dog in Disney’s Up put it best. “Squirrel!” I often think I’m Dug. Do you?
We begin to pray, and a few sentences in, our minds begins to wander. Things to do, appointments to make and keep, what we will prepare for supper. If you struggle with staying focused during prayer time (and yep, I’m raising my hand here), consider trying the following:
- Make a list of your to do’s before you go to bed at night, so you can concentrate the next morning, knowing you already have a plan.
- Keep a notepad next to you and jot down things that pop in your mind. Then you can let them go. It may not feel super-spiritual to stop praying, but writing things down that are distracting us frees us to refocus our minds on talking to our Father.
- Journal your prayers. I once heard someone say, “Writing is thinking.” Yes! Journaling prayers helps us focus. It gives us the chance to work out what we’re thinking, to process. And it becomes a record of the trials and struggles, blessings and successes. We look back and see God’s faithfulness.
- Create a peaceful place for concentrated time with Him. A little corner of the living room, your kitchen table, wherever you can make a special place. Get a cup of tea or coffee, light a candle, turn on some praise or instrumental music if it helps you.
Create your own prayer notebook and more with Growing Faith: Establishing Strong, Deep Roots!
Problem 2: Not Knowing What to Say
1. We don’t have to know.
Romans 8:26-27 says,
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Groanings too deep for words. We don’t have to have all the words. Sometimes we just need to kneel down and cry to the Lord. And when you feel you need to say something, maybe it is time to simply admit, “Father, I don’t know what to say, but I trust you—help me to trust you.”
2. We have a guide.
Pray the Scriptures. I love this. John says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) Notice the first part: IF you abide in me, and my words abide in you. Want to know how to pray according to His will? Pray Scripture. Does it mean we get everything we want? I don’t think so. But I do think it means our prayers will change. Our desires will align with our Fathers. And we will learn to trust in His answers.
We see the same idea expressed in Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Our hearts join with His—because we delight, we take pleasure, in Him.
Problem 3: Lacking Time or Energy
Certain seasons of our lives dictate that our prayer time may look a little different. Some seasons allow a time of lingering in Bible study and prayer, quiet mornings set aside to be with our Savior. And at other times, to be the moms our kids need us to be, we require as much sleep as we can get—when we can get it. So please don’t feel guilty about that! God designed us to need rest. But whatever season we find ourselves in, let’s not overcomplicate prayer. Jesus simplified it for his disciples:
Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13)
And ultimately, Paul’s admonition to pray without ceasing is a blessing. It shows that prayer is a natural part of our lives, an attitude, a knowing that God is always present and accessible to us.
It’s an ongoing conversation. You’ve experienced this with people in your life. You may be going about your day, and just start talking to whomever is in the room with you. Whether a comment, question, or perhaps just a sharing of thoughts or feelings, you talk to the ones around you. You don’t have to do it formally, according to a prescribed format. You simply tell them what is on your mind.
And the same is true when it comes to your relationship with God. We can whisper a prayer for patience and thank God for the simple things. And we acknowledge His presence with us in the midst of the chaos and laundry and stuff. Praise Him for His gifts and goodness and love. Then, we ask Him to help us see what He sees.
So let’s pray as we go about our days. May we be real, give ourselves some grace, and realize: prayer is a blessing, not something to be put on our to do lists. We find strength and peace and patience and comfort. We have access to our Father, anytime and anywhere.
He is with us.
Problem 4: We are afraid, angry, hurt, or sad. We feel resentful or disillusioned with life. And sometimes even with Him.
Are you feeling this way, Sweet Mama? There is one simple solution, though it isn’t necessarily easy. Be honest with God. Turn to the Pslams, and you will see David, the man after God’s own heart, time and again cries out to God. And he is real. Honest.
But also notice what happens when David cries out. When he bares his soul—lays out his fears, his frustrations, his anxiety—he comes to a place of surrender, of trust, of praise, of acknowledgement of Who God is. And David realizes who he is in relation to God.
When we stuff our very real anger, hurt, resentment, and frustration down deep in our souls, we will never experience peace. When we pretend we aren’t afraid or sad or completely disillusioned we won’t be able to get past the hard stuff of life.
Putting on a happy face and pretending everything is alright doesn’t fool anyone, especially God. God is big enough to handle your truth. He knows you better than you know yourself. Prayer gives you the chance to admit it so He can work in the mess.
Do I ever struggle with this? Uhm, yes. Distracted, busy, and struggling with what to say. Sometimes I feel tired, or angry, or overwhelmed. But ultimately I know I can rest in the fact that deep down I love God. My new heart longs to know Him and honor Him. To be fully known by Him. And I’m guessing the same it true of you.
We are in this together. And He is with us. Let’s learn to reach out to Him.
Besides the Bible, I have two particular books I recommend on prayer. Perhaps one of my favorites is A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World by Paul Miller. He has a great system using index cards that is very helpful (and doable!)
The other is Timothy Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.
Create your own prayer notebook and more with Growing Faith: Establishing Strong, Deep Roots!
I want to give you a chance to meditate on the truth, of who you are in Christ. You can download a FREE Scripture writing and prayer journal: Who I Am in Christ: A Scripture Writing and Prayer Journal.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.