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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

TITLE: Being Persistent and Purposeful in Prayer
By Amanda Gray


Being Persistent and Purposeful in Prayer
“Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer life, being both alert and intent in your praying with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2, Amp)

I don’t know about you, but I find that the time in which I have the most difficulty concentrating is when I sit down to have a before-bed chat with God.
It’s kind of like meeting up with a good friend you haven’t seen for a while. You have so much to say. And, while you might have started talking about significant things like relationship issues, work worries or the lack of availability of really good hairdressers in the local area, you suddenly find yourself talking about the inconvenience caused by the early morning arrival of the garbage truck.
Because, as authors, we all know that mornings are for sleeping in and nights are for writing. And, with our heads full of hopefully clever imagery that we feel must be preserved for posterity, we often forget practical things - like putting out the garbage. And this often results in an early morning dash onto the street in the pyjamas with an overflowing bin. And all too often that dash is a futile one….
Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. Before-bed chats with God (How did I get on to talking about putting out the garbage?).
So, as I was saying, sitting down to chat with God before retiring I often found it very hard to be “alert and intent” in my prayers. So I thought about that analogy of sitting down with a friend after a long absence. About how the conversation is often a meandering one, with lots of side-tracks because there is so much to say. And about how, in this situation, there is a high likelihood of getting distracted from the original topic or purpose of the discussion.
This led me to Ephesians 6:18 where again Paul encourages us to “keep alert and watch with strong purpose.” But this time it is prefaced with the exhortation to “pray at all times.”
So I have been trying something different. I pray all through the day, sometimes with a strong focus on an issue that I need help to resolve in the long-term. Sometimes for help in day-to-day problem-solving. And at other times I simply to talk to God about the beauty, joy and wonder of living under His wing, surrounded by His handiwork, with the inexpressible privilege of having a personal relationship with Him.
The result is that it has seemed to ensure a more focused prayer life, even if the conversations are held in the car on the way to work, over knitting needles on the couch or whilst standing in the shower. Instead of trying to fit a lot of random things into one conversation, my prayers seem to have more purpose, to involve concentration and focus on one thing at a time.
And most importantly, this approach seems to allow me to better follow Jesus’ directions not to “worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34, Amp.). Instead of jumping ahead and worrying about the future, I get to take one step at a time with my Creator.
As the old hymn by Whittle and Moody says, “Moment by moment, I’m kept in His love; Moment by moment, I’ve life from above”.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Mary McLeary07/31/08
I enjoyed this so much. I have experienced exactly what you wrote about, and you reaffirmed my desire to "pray without ceasing."
Anita van der Elst07/31/08
I enjoyed your conversational style & agree with your approach to prayer! It's great to do that when you're on the freeway--really helps cut down on road rage!
Marlene Austin08/03/08
Nice devotional on praying without ceasing. Rambling on about the garbage really drove home the point. :)
Mary Hackett08/04/08
This is so true...I find myself so far off topic sometimes when I pray. My thoughts can just suck me away...good reminder! Well written, too :)