When I pray during my devotional time in the morning, I often feel that my prayers sound like a broken record. I pray the same things for the same people over and over again!
I know that persisting in prayer is a good thing, but when should I keep praying and when should I “take it to the Lord in prayer” and then move on because I trust Him? Also, I feel like I go on autopilot because I’ve prayed the same things so much that I don’t really have to think about what I’m praying. How can I stay focused and engaged when I’ve prayed the same things so many times?
Have you ever wondered these things? Let’s explore what the Bible says about persisting in prayer and discuss some ways we can stay engaged when praying persistently.
Why it’s good to persist in prayer
The persistent prayer of a sincere believer isn’t a sign of weak faith. If anything, it’s a sign of understanding—understanding that we can talk to Almighty God and that He delights in hearing and answering our prayers. Check out what the Bible say about it:
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
God wants us to persist in prayer!
How to stay engaged when praying persistently
Just knowing that it’s good to persist in prayer doesn’t mean we don’t slip into autopilot and pray the same things we always do without really thinking about what we’re saying. Sometimes we have to do things to help us stay focused.
- Write out prayers. It takes a little more effort and focus for me to write out a prayer than it does for me to pray silently. Therefore, I benefit from picking up a pen or pencil and writing out prayers in a journal. This has the added benefit of documenting the prayers so I can return to them at a later time and see how the Lord has worked!
- Pray aloud with others. Praying out loud with others also takes more effort and focus than praying silently. I like to pray with my husband, my daughters, and others because it requires me to really concentrate and consider what I’m praying.
- Pray Bible verses. There are always Bible verses that are applicable to the people and situations for which I pray. I find it helpful to identify these verses and pray them. Doing this helps me get out of the rut of repeatedly praying the same words and phrases.
- Let people know you are praying for them. When I shoot a text message to a friend or call and let her know I’m praying for her, I find that I feel more passionate about praying for her and that my prayers feel more meaningful. Subsequently, I try to contact loved ones on occasion and let them know they are in my prayers.
- Listen to God. Sometimes I take time to sit and listen when I pray. I’ll ask God how I should pray for a particular situation or what He wants me to pray for someone. I really should do this more often! Though it doesn’t always happen, I’ll often gain a new perspective on a situation or gain some direction for my prayers.
Do you ever feel like you’re on autopilot or reciting some canned prayer when you pray persistently for a person or situation? What do you do to make sure you stay focused and engaged?
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