You’ve probably felt it like I have. You sit down with Bible in hand; cup of steaming hot coffee to your right. The pen is ready and maybe there’s even a journal close by. Everything is in place for you to spend time in communion with your Lord except for one thing: your heart.
Our fast paced world is excellent at creating fast paced people. If we have to wait more than a few seconds for a webpage to pop up we sigh with frustration and check our phones to fill in the few seconds that seem like an eternity. If the drive thru line at Del Taco has more than 3 cars in it I sincerely question if it is worth it (note: it is always worth it). Our hearts and our minds have been conditioned for the immediate and the instant.
And then we, the fast and the furious, come to sit silently to hear from God in His Word and pray. Needless to say, for many of us, it isn’t easy.
Three Simple Ways to Quiet Your Heart for Prayer
How does one quiet his raging heart? How can we slow ourselves down so we don’t sprint through the rose garden of God’s Word or speed-date our way through prayer? I have found the counsel of David MacIntyre to be very helpful in this matter. In his book, The Hidden Life of Prayer, MacIntyre offers, “three great, but simple acts of faith, which will serve to stay the mind on God” so your time in communion with Him isn’t rushed or hurried, but a blessing.
1) Recognize you are accepted before God through the dying of the Lord Jesus. The first and most crucial thing to do when entering into a time of prayer or devotion is to remember anew that you are acceptable, indeed approved of God, because of what Christ has done for you at the cross. MacIntyre says that, “Our first act in prayer ought to be the giving of our souls to the power of the blood of Christ.” This is an amazing practice that both calms and comforts us to approach God boldly (Hebrews 10:19-23) as well as remember our act of prayer is not a means to be accepted by God, but is a celebration of already being accepted by God through Jesus. When you come to Him to pray, remember He first came to you to pay for your sins.
2) Call out to receive the Spirit’s helping grace. “Confess and receive the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit, without whom nothing is holy, nothing good.” James said we don’t have lots of things because we simply don’t ask for them (James 4:2). Jesus promised that He would gladly give us what we need if we ask the Father for it (Matthew 7:7-11). We serve a Living God who is also a Listening God. He loves to answer His people’s prayers, especially when their prayers are asking for help to pray. MacIntyre rightly says, “Without the support of the Holy Spirit, prayer becomes a matter of incredible difficulty.” Don’t get on bended knee without Him.
3) Focus your heart on the Bible. George Mueller (the fella who gave this rock solid, life changing advice for devotions) once confessed that often he could not pray until he had steadied his mind upon a text. Since the Holy Spirit’s “chosen means of enlightenment, comfort, livening, and rebuke (is) the Word of God, it is well for us in the beginning of our prayers to direct our hearts towards the Holy Scriptures.” Let your prayers be guided by God’s Word. If you find yourself in confusion as to what to pray for, turn your Bible to the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) or the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) or any other portion of Scripture where God reveals His will for your life or promises for your faith. Read them and pray in response to them. Let God speak to you through His Word and respond in prayer. It is a freeing thing to remember that God has much to say if we are willing to listen. It is a powerful thing to pray for things you know God delights in. Focus your distracted heart on God’s Word and pray for strength to obey the passage, confess your sins the passage exposes, intercede for others relating to what the passage says, or thank and praise God for the truths/promises He offers in the passage. God has much to say and there is much to pray about. Focusing your heart on His Word of grace will help fill your mouth with words of prayer.
Those are three ways to help your prayer and communion time with Christ. I hope they bless you and help you to regularly approach the throne of grace for all you need and to worship your King. As a freebie, I have been very blessed by Martin Luther’s short letter on prayer he wrote for his barber, Pete. You can read it for free here.