Prayer doesn’t always come easily to me. I often begin to pray with the best of intentions only to suddenly catch myself, a few moments later, daydreaming, thinking about a meeting, or anything else random that comes into my mind.
Distraction can be a huge hindrance in our prayer life, and it was for me. But I discovered that it provided a wonderful opportunity for growth, why? because I needed a design for prayer that kept me focused!
And it came when I was reading ‘Too Busy Not to Pray.’ In this book, Bill Hybels suggested that we write out our prayers. So, I began writing out my whole prayer and then reading it back to God. It started slowly, it was disjointed, even a little rudimentary. I remember writing A for Adoration, C for Confession, T for Thanksgiving and S for Supplication, in the margin to keep me focused. When I began to move pen across paper, it became much easier to remain focused. That was over 20 years ago.
I began to notice that my spiritual discipline developed a new strength. Each morning I woke expectantly to have an appointment with God – in writing. But after a powerful season of meeting with God each morning, I missed my morning appointment. It was only one day but it really hurt me. It challenged my deeply.
As a result of me missing my daily appointment, I made the decision to pray every day for the rest of my life. Rather than considering it a legalistic gesture, prayer has become an essential discipline not only to stay “pure and holy” and above reproach in all areas of my life, but to stay in love with and “on fire” for God! So, every single day for over 15 years, I have had an appointment with God—in writing!
I have found that writing prayers has a number of benefits:
Writing was the pattern for much of Scripture
- Writing by the saints, the prophets, the men and women of God in His Word was a way to express their hearts and lay their requests before God in writing. Many of the Psalms were written prayers, some being called ‘A Prayer of David.’
Writing keeps me focused
- Writing helps me concentrate, focus and keep my mind from wandering.
- Writing slows me down and helps me quiet my heart before God.
- Writing helps me keep from praying the same things every day. It enables me to channel and structure my prayer a bit more.
- Writing allows me to look over my words and see what I have missed. It’s easy to jump right into my list of concerns for my life or the life of others and forget all the different elements of prayer that Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer.
Writing builds my spiritual discipline
- Writing for me is a kind of mental discipline and intentionality that is often absent in vocal communication.
- Writing helps in my future praying. Often, reading a prayer I’ve written helps me jumpstart my prayer time.
- Writing doesn’t have to be flowery or long-winded. Most of the time I only write one page.
- Writing my prayers helps me when I pray in public, as the daily disciplines of writing flow easily when I speak prayers in public
Writing keeps me honest
- Writing my prayers has helped me be more open and honest about what is on my heart. I’ve learned to come to Him just as I am, broken, sinful, and hurting. I describe in vivid words and pictures the state of my heart. I’m honest about my thoughts, my attitude, the temptations I am facing, or the idols I have worshipped. The truth is, God already knows all those things about me. He knows what’s on my heart before I do. But the intimacy of prayer helps me to acknowledge those things before Him, repent, and seek His help.
Writing keeps me faith filled
- Writing prayers of thanksgiving for specific blessings is a good way to look back and see ways God has worked in my life.
- Writing gives me a wonderful record year after year of God’s blessings.
- Writing records God’s faithfulness in my life. I can see how he has answered prayers and moved in my life and in the life of others. I can also see how God has changed me over the course of time as I see how my prayers have changed.
Much more could be written here. My purpose is simply to encourage those who get distracted when praying. Why not try writing your prayers to God?
In my next blog, I will share my weekly process of ‘praying the write way.’