I saw a meme on Facebook that made me laugh. I can’t find it again, but it went something like, ‘I have prayer ADHD, I start, drift into thinking other things, then come back saying ‘Where was I, Lord?’
I think we have all had the same experience. Our fleshly minds want to think of anything except compass point north, Jesus Christ. It zones out on us, drifts off, creates a grocery list, listens to the birds outside, or the traffic, anything but laser focus on the throne of grace.
Why is it so hard? Praying is an act of war, spiritual war. We are opposed at every turn by the evil one and his minions, and when we clasp our hands together, we are effectively sounding a trumpet to those demons that we are entering another battle with them.
The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer. In its nature it is a laborious undertaking, and in our endeavor to maintain the spirit of prayer we are called to wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness.
Dr. Andrew Bonar used to say that, as the King of Syria commanded his captains to fight neither with small nor great, but only with the King of Israel, so the prince of the power of the air seems to bend all the force of his attack against the spirit of prayer.
If he should prove victorious there, he has won the day. Sometimes we are conscious of a satanic impulse directed immediately against the life of prayer in our souls; sometimes we are led into “dry” and wilderness-experiences, and the face of God grows dark above us; sometimes, when we strive most earnestly to bring every thought and imagination under obedience to Christ, we seem to be given over to disorder and unrest; sometimes the inbred slothfulness of our nature lends itself to the evil one as an instrument by which he may turn our minds back from the exercise of prayer.
Because of all these things, therefore, we must be diligent and resolved, watching as a sentry who remembers that the lives of men are lying at the hazard of his wakefulness, resourcefulness, and courage. “And what I say unto you,” said the Lord to His disciples, “I say unto all, Watch!”
How do you pray? I used to kneel but my knees and back can’t take that any more. So now I sit in my chair and pray aloud. Praying out loud helps me focus and not drift off. However there is no one particularly commanded position for praying. I don’t imagine Paul had too many options for prayer positions when he was chained up in jail.
Hannah famously prayed a whisper prayer in the temple. The priest watching her thought she was drunk. But no, she was just agonizing in spirit and pressing that agony upward to the LORD. (1 Samuel 1:9-17).
Jonah prayed to the LORD in the belly of the great fish, he also cried out (Jonah 2:2). I think his cries were probably pretty loud, too!
David no doubt prayed silently but no doubt he prayed aloud too. David had an active prayer life with the LORD. His prayers were appeals, praises, repentance, appreciation for provision, imprecations…his type of prayers are a good model for us, because he conversed with the Savior through prayer as if the LORD was standing right beside David. In effect Jesus was, and David knew that.
No matter how you pray, the point is, pray. It’s a mechanism that is commanded, after all, but it is also a grace that we have been given as a gift. Practice focusing on what you are saying to the Lord and not drifting off, because He is standing right there with you (and me) after all.
In the end, when Hannah finished pouring out her prayer to the LORD, “her face was no longer downcast.” (1 Samuel 1:18). What a blessing to be able to commune with Jesus.
“Our first act in prayer ought to be the yielding of our souls to the power of the blood of Christ”.
The Hidden Life of Prayer, by David MacIntyre