Articles and resources to help Christians learn to pray
By Kim Butts
It may happen during worship, or in our daily quiet time. We’ve all experienced it and been frustrated by it – distraction! It is the number one enemy of our attempts to worship, to pray and to listen. How often do we find our thoughts wandering to events of the past or future, or to things which need to be done, etc. when we should be giving God our full attention? Jesus spoke to the Pharisees of His day: “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me” (Matthew 15:7-8).
Sometimes we come into the presence of the Lord lightly – even when we attend church. We don’t realize that when we enter into His presence, physically and spiritually, He expects us to come before Him sanctified, set apart from the world. In Leviticus 10:3, Moses says to Aaron, “…It is what the Lord spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.’” We should approach God with carefulness and thoughtfulness because of His glory and majesty – because of who He is.
Have you ever found yourself thinking of other things while you are praying? The Bible warns us against this in Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few…”
David Wilkerson, in his article “Distractions in the Holy Place!” says, “What a babble of praises Christians pour out – so little of it connected to our hearts! What a river of thoughtless hallelujahs and songs are mouthed by people whose thoughts ramble away like wild horses.” When we do not approach our Lord in holiness, and when we do not practice reverence before Him, we will begin to enter His presence carelessly or thoughtlessly. According to Wilkerson, this can lead to “spiritual death.” “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare in the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
If your distraction is most evident when you are in church, it is probably because you do not experience intimate prayer and worship with the Lord Jesus at home. Our prayer and worship is devoid of life because we have separated ourselves from the Life-Giver!
When we are distracted and our minds depart from our prayer and worship, there is no life in either one! We don’t, as Wilkerson says, “get spiritual credit just for planting our body in a pew,” or placing ourselves in a posture of prayer if our hearts and minds are far removed from the presence of Christ. Why should we expect God to hear prayers we mindlessly utter, or worship that is merely mouthing words we read or sing without paying attention to what they say?
How do we deal with distraction? Here are three Distraction Busters to help us:
Wilkerson says the following: “If you don’t worship God with all your mind and heart, little by little neglect will creep in and you’ll begin to worship merely out of habit…test yourself by God’s Word: 1) Do you come boldly and regularly into the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus? (Hebrews 10:19); 2) Do you consistently draw nearer to God in full assurance of faith? (Hebrews 10:22); 3) Do you hold fast to Him, without wavering? (Hebrews 10:23); 4) Do you assemble together with other believers? Or have you forsaken assembling with the saints? (Hebrews 10:25)
Do you worship Him daily, with all your heart? Do you dig into the Word of God as if your life depends on it? Or do you go for days without opening your Bible, without praying to Him in your secret closet?”
Don’t allow distractions to rob you of intimacy with God. Give the Lord your very best in prayer and worship and then watch Him work in your life in powerful ways!
© 2020, Harvest Prayer Ministries
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