I have a couple questions regarding my prayer life that are bothering me. I’ve searched for the answers to these myself, but the only places I’ve found them addressed is from the Catholic church, and I’d rather hear an opinion from a member of the church of Christ.
First Question or Concern:
When I pray, my personal private prayers tend to be long and my mind starts to wander or drift. I feel guilty for not being able to keep constant focus in my prayer time to God. But I find myself asking for forgiveness so much in my prayer time that it is hampering the actual prayers. Every time my mind drifts, I pray for forgiveness. I know that in a normal conversation with a friend, our minds drift, and we have to bring them back to point. But is this something I should ask forgiveness for? How should I handle this?
Second Question or Concern:
I am a strong believer that each time we pray we should acknowledge that God gave His Son for our sins by having him die on the cross. However, should we go through the entire crucifixion in our minds each time we acknowledge this? Or is it sufficient to just thank God for the sacrifice without trying to recreate that scene in our minds every time we pray?
I would appreciate your thoughts on these subjects. I am a member of the church and attend regularly. I just don’t feel comfortable asking our preacher these questions. I have read your articles, and I tend to agree with your thoughts on things, so I wanted your opinion.
What would be good is to go through the prayers in the Bible. Most of the prayers are not that long. Most are focused on just a few topics, often a single matter that concerned the one praying. I think the reason your mind is drifting is because you have a rote set of topics, allowing you to express yourself without much focus.
You will find that many of the prayers do acknowledge a person's sins, but not all or even the majority. So instead of following a set pattern to your prayers, pick three or four topics that are most on your mind and pray about them. Take a moment or two to stretch, and if there are more things you need to discuss with the Father, bring them up in a follow-on prayer.
Being thankful to God for His blessings, especially the blessing of salvation through His Son's sacrifice, is an important aspect of prayer. But consider the times Jesus' death is mentioned in the New Testament. Every reference to his death did not require a complete, detailed description of the crucifixion; yet, the appreciation for what was done comes through no less clearly.
Prayer serves a variety of purposes. It is communication with God. Just like the letters your write each have a purpose. Every letter doesn't cover all topics, nor will you find a topic always covered in every letter. Make your prayers letters to God which are done with purpose in mind.
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men" (I Timothy 2:1).
Notice the variety of communications mentioned in just this one verse. Make your prayers varied as well.