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When I came into my faith and started to read the Bible, praying, and living a Christ-like life I had no idea how it would change me. I was familiar with crying out to God in times of pain, agony, heartbreak, and need but I had no idea there was so much more to prayer than that. I eventually learned how to pray intentionally, and this has helped me so much in my faith and relationship with Jesus.
There are many ways people explain prayer. We need, however, to filter all things through scripture, and that includes what God tells us about prayer through His Word. We have touched on how to pray without ceasing, but what does scripture tell us about how to pray intentionally?
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.Matthew 6:6 ESV
While Jesus is explaining the model prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), which includes the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus begins in verse 5 by saying not to be like the hypocrites who love to show off in public, praying to be “seen by men” which in the original Greek means “to meet the eyes, strike the sight, become clear or manifest”. In other words, your prayers should never be for your own glorification.
Directly after this, Jesus tells us to “go into your room and shut the door”. An important aspect of intentional prayer is to take time to be alone with God. Clear distractions, clear time in your schedule, step away from other people and pray between you and God alone. To pray intentionally is to intentionally make time for God every day.
Even Jesus took time to pray intentionally
Jesus, God in the flesh, took time to pray intentionally and privately with God the Father. We can take from Him the example that there are times we need to intentionally separate ourselves from others, from distraction, from the everyday things, even the important life things, and focus on God alone. Jesus took time to pray in solitude while He awaited the Romans who would come to take him to be crucified. Jesus took time to step away and pray even with His impending death approaching. While a crowd gathered, desperately wanting His attention, He stepped away from them to go “to the mountain to pray”.
In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.Luke 6:12 ESV
And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,Luke 22:41 ESV
Is your to-do list really more important than time with God? Are your friends, your spouse, your kids, your job more important than God in your life? To pray intentionally is to actually live like God is truly the most important part of your life. This benefits our relationship with God, and also is a signal to others that God comes first.
Why should we make time for God?
When we take time every day to spend with God alone we are committing to growing in our personal relationship with Him. We are placing God as a priority in our lives and our days. By creating space to be alone with God, we are able to focus on God without distraction.
God wants a personal relationship with you. We know that communication and commitment are necessary for healthy relationships to grow with the people in our lives. We schedule girl’s nights with our friends, date nights with our significant other, play dates with our kids, bedtime and morning routines with our families, self-care routines, schedule me-time, and heck, we have routines at work, in serving, and in church. Why would we give any less to God? Why would we not intentionally make time for the most important Person in our lives every day, the Lord?
Make intentional time for God
Your intentional prayer time with God may look a bit different than mine, but that’s exactly as it should be. What doesn’t change is that we should be in scripture, pray to the Lord constantly, and intentionally invest in our personal relationships with God every day.
For me, I use my prayer journal in the mornings and spend time in the Word every morning. This sets my day up to be centered on Christ and helps me resist charging into my day with my to-do list as the primary goal and focus. Our goal and focus should always be to serve and honor God in all we do to draw others to Him as we also draw nearer to Him. We are here to share His Truth far and wide, and our lives should be a testimony to our living faith in Christ. But how can our lives be a living testimony if we aren’t making time for Him in our lives?
How do you spend time with God each day?
Share some ideas with us that may encourage others in how they can make time to pray intentionally and create time and space for the Lord every day.