Colossians 4: 2 (NLT)
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
That verse smacks me ‘upside the head’ – “pray with an alert mind”. I don’t know about you, but I find prayer difficult. I will begin to pray and then dozens of thoughts about my day (what to make for supper, appointments that week, thinking about my family, need to call someone, do I need to buy new pillows for my couch – all scattered irrelevant thoughts) flood my mind. I can pray about things during my day as they come to mind, and that is fine. To be conscious of God’s presence throughout our day is good. But I struggle to find time to pray in a serious thoughtful way. Paul tells us to pray “with an alert mind and a thankful heart”.
When do I have an alert mind? If we stopped and thought about it, we could probably find a time of day when we know we are wide awake. Some of us are morning persons and some are night hawks. We need to be aware of when we are alert and figure out a time for prayer. Paul also encourages us to pray with a thankful heart. Start prayer by thanking God for any small thing (or big thing) that has happened in the past couple of days. I really think praise helps our minds to focus.
Charles Swindoll writes about these verses and says that we should determine to improve our prayer life but not get too strict with our expectations. Instead, determine to pray more this week. Next week, ask ourselves if we met that expectation, and if not, determine to make it better. If we improve a little over a month, that is good. He feels people sometimes set their expectations too high and then quit because they fail. Look instead for a gradual improvement. That sounds like good advice to me, and if you struggle with prayer, try that approach.
God is so good to us and so patient. He even taught us how to pray.
Matthew 6: 9 – 13 NLT
9 Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
As we pray for all the situations we bump into over our lives, know that we ask for God’s will, not ours. We can pray for the things we need, and forgiveness for all the ways we’ve messed up. We can pray for protection. God is interested in all the areas of our lives, and he also wants us to know that he is almighty God, able to answer those prayers.
As Christmas time and all its busyness consumes our lives, let’s also find that time to pray – with an alert mind and with a thankful heat.
Our song for today is Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher.