How many times have you started to pray and become distracted? You begin praying, and all of a sudden, a grocery list begins forming in your head, or you suddenly remember you forgot something three weeks ago. Over the last several years, a common prayer strategy has been to pray on your way to work. The reasoning behind this new place of prayer was simple, prayer is a conversation, so what better place to have a conversation than in the car? Jesus is your passenger, basically.
We have made many efforts to make prayer more conversational, and in my opinion, it has lost some of its sacredness in the process. We need to slow down, take our time, and treasure those moments with the God of the universe. Yes, God is our Father, but He is also God, and much of these new prayer techniques have taken the reverence out of prayer and may have caused us to become scatterbrained. There is nothing that can guarantee a 100% focused prayer time. Look at the disciples in the garden; Jesus came back to them multiple times and told them to wake up. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
When Jesus prayed, Scripture says He went to a quiet place to pray (Matthew 14:23, Luke 5:16), and Peter went on a roof to pray (Acts 10). I believe we may be missing a way to focus our minds in prayer by not having a designated quiet place and even a regular time to pray. Am I against praying in the car? No, I frequently pray while I’m driving, but I also know I cannot put all my focus on prayer.
When I pray at home, I put my cellphone on silent and put it in my desk drawer. Another way to help focus our prayer time is to pray through the Model Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Don’t just pray it, but pray through it; let the words guide your prayer. Thank God for His goodness, ask for God’s will to be done in your life, forgive people, ask to be kept from temptation, ask to be delivered from the areas you struggle with and end your prayer with thanksgiving.
I’m not advocating a formula; even some of our spontaneous prayers have led us into fruitless times of prayer simply because we do not know what to say. I am advocating that we follow the example of Jesus and that maybe that will help some of us not go into la-la land so much. Prayer is a time to commune with the Lord, so while it’s still good to pray as you drive, there might be something about a set-aside time and place to pray. Give it a shot and see what happens.