As I said in my previous post, I will be taking information from D.A. Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation and sharing it with you in hopes that we can all become better men and women of prayer. Carson argues, "The one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper Knowledge of God, We need to know God better." What better way to get to know God than to spend time talking with Him in prayer?
In his first chapter, Carson gives seven lessons for someone who wants to really learn how to pray. I will address the first two in this post and then the last five at a later time.
1. Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray.
That means we must self-consciously set aside time to do nothing but pray. In our world, this is not something that is done very often. We are so busy that we pray as we remember to. We must set aside time during the day that is designated just for prayer. What we do throughout the day reflects our priorities. Prayer must become a priority if we are going to get to know God on a deep and intimate basis. Wise planning will ensure that we spend time in prayer often even if just for short periods of time.
2. Adopt practical ways to impede mental drift.
This is one of my biggest hindrances to my prayer life. When I pray my mind begins to wander to things that I have to do, places I have to be, the TV show I watched last night...you get the point. This is a discipline that I need to learn. Try vocalizing your prayers. This does not mean saying them just to be heard but saying your prayers out loud will get you out of your own mind and allow you to focus on the words that you are saying. Another helpful thing is to pray Scripture back to God. Read the Psalms and pray for the things David and the other Psalmists prayed for. This will help keep you on track with your praying. Journaling is how some people impede mental drift. If you are writing out your prayers, it leaves less time for daydreaming.
You can greatly improve your prayer life if you will combine just these first two principles. If you will set aside time to pray and adopt practical ways to impede mental drift, your prayers will become more meaningful and in turn allow you to grow closer to God.