An important discipline necessary in personal prayer is the discipline of mind. You must learn how to relax without your mind shifting into neutral. Perhaps concentrating on a written prayer list will help with this discipline. Personal prayer includes listening as well as speaking to God. Therefore, your must discipline yourself to listen. You and I must discipline our mind to concentrate on prayer in the private place at the private time. W. E. Sangster says: “Let no beginner in prayer abandon the privilege because of mind wandering. It can be conquered. A brisk, live imagination and a resolute will cannot be denied. Even though, in the early stages, the precious minutes tick away and all the time seems spent in bringing the mind back from its wanderings and fixing it again on prayer, they are not moments lost. Such discipline will exercise the muscles of the will, and the day will dawn when the sweetest meditation and the most earnest prayer will be possible even amid distraction.”
While in public prayer there needs to be an “amen” to indicate to others that the prayer is finished, in personal prayer you need to learn how to pray without saying “amen.” This allows the communication to continue beyond the special time and apart from the special place. Refraining from saying “amen” is a symbolic way of allowing the Lord to continue communication with you throughout the day. It is like parents wanting to stay in touch with their children. How often in your childhood did one of your parents call your name and when you responded they said, “I just wanted to know if you were okay?” The discipline of continuation allows God to continue communication with us.
Abba Father, how amazing it is that I can come to You as Your beloved child and be enfolded within Your arms as I pray. Yet, in my busy life, my mind begins to wander away from Your heart even as I speak to You. Help me to picture Your lovely face continually, and to remember that Your holy presence never leaves me.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 25, Disciplines of Personal Prayer by Dan R. Crawford). This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God, the one mightier than all the officials of all the nations. Give thanks that he is interested in the substance of justice and mercy rather than mere outward forms (Zechariah 7). Confess times during which your walk with God doesn’t go much deeper than formality. Commit yourself to a life-style of justice, mercy, and compassion (Zech. 7:9). Ask God to regularly prompt you to loving faithfulness in such a life.
Pray that your church’s leaders will not be sidetracked by mere adherence to forms or accepted patterns. Ask God to fill them with courage to effectively lead you into his justice, mercy, and compassion.