Prayer is a discipline, and it is easy to get distracted. Here is a simple technique to keep yourself focused during your daily devotional time.
This model uses the acronym “PRAYERS.”
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens (Psalm 150:1) As we enter the presence of the Lord, praise is the natural response. He is holy, He is Mighty, He is King. We spend so much time enmired in the details of our own small lives, focused on ourselves, our needs, our desires. When we meet with our Heavenly Father, it is appropriate to spend the first part of our prayer time letting go of ourselves, and focusing our attention on Him. Just reflecting on who He is will adjust our perspective and lead us into worship.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:19). After we praise Him for His attributes, we feel how very far away we are from meeting the standard He has set. Spend this time repenting of what is lacking in your character, and confess the particular sins that come to mind.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us (1 John 5:14). Forgiven of your transgressions, you can now be emboldened to turn to the Lord with your petitions. I have five lists: one of important situations, one of family members, one of friends, one of church and political leaders, and one of political situations. I can’t pray for all of it every day, but I try to pray for at least something from each list every day.
Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7) Submit all these requests to the Lord’s control, and relinquish any anxiety you may feel over them. You can also use this time to yield your character to Him, asking for His help with whatever character trait He wants to develop in You. I have spent different seasons working on trust, patience, and perseverance.
- Express Thanks
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). Asking the Lord’s help, and relinquishing control to Him naturally leads into gratitude to Him. Use this time to thank Him for what He will do with those situations you have brought to Him, and also to thank Him for what He has helped you with in the past.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105). There are actually three Rs, so the bulk of your PRAYERS will likely be spent here. Read slowly a portion of the Bible, reflecting on what the Lord says to you. Choose a verse to carry with you through the day. You can recite it a few times to help you remember, or write it down and carry it in your pocket.
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed (Psalm 71:23). We are directed many times in the Bible to sing unto the Lord. This is the perfect way to end your PRAYERS, because if you choose a catchy song that you love, you will move into your day carrying the song with you. Even better if the song helps you remember the verse you’re taking with you today. Do a quick search for your verse on Spotify, and chances are you’ll come up with a song that will help you remember it.
If you are limited in the time you have for your daily devotions, or if you need more structure to keep your mind from wandering, use a timer. Reset it for each section of your PRAYERS. If your mind tends to wander, your timer will redirect you to move on to the next portion. Over time, you will find that your ability to focus will increase, and you will be able to fully immerse yourself without being distracted by thoughts of whether you remembered to thaw the meat for dinner, or who you forgot to call yesterday.
You can customize how long you spend in each section of the PRAYERS, but you will probably spend the bulk of your time in Read/Reflect/Remember. To start, you may want to follow one of the schedules below:
- If you have an hour for your PRAYERS, set your timer for 5 minutes for each section, except for R. This will give you 25 minutes to read and reflect on Scripture and 5 minutes to choose a bible verse to remember throughout the day.
- If you have half an hour for your PRAYERS, set your timer for 2 minutes for each section, except for R. This will give you 13 minutes to read and reflect on Scripture, and 5 minutes to choose a bible verse to remember throughout the day.
- If you have twenty minutes for your PRAYERS, move quickly through most sections. Choose a different section each day to spend most of your time.
There are many other models that people use to pray. I developed the PRAYERS model for my morning devotions because it incorporates all of the types of prayer, as well as Scripture reading and remembering. It is the model that works best for me.
You may find something different works best for you, or you may find that you like to vary what your prayer time looks like in different seasons of life. That’s fine. The main thing is, choose a method and start praying. You can tweak it as you go.
Remember, the model is just a tool to help you develop your focus and grow in your personal relationship with God.