When you look at a day it doesn't seem hard to pray for an hour, but I think when you sit down to do it it's overwhelming. People who've done tons of this can pray for several hours, but those people are much holier than me. So, I'm going to share my "Praying for Dummies" tips. I'm not name-calling here, just thought I'd break it down so it doesn't seem so daunting.
1. Try to get somewhere alone. Even from the dog, who seems so sweet and cuddly until you try to focus on prayer and he starts bringing you the ball. Move anything distracting away--there is no such thing as multitasking appropriately while praying. I have prayed in the car (parked in the garage), in a variety of different closets, the yard, Abi's bed, the bathroom...I do best praying late at night or early in the morning because then I can sit at a table but still not be interrupted.
2. Prepare your prayer list, a Bible, paper, a pen, any notes/scriptures you've been meditating, and any good lists of scriptures you have (I have a Biblical promises one that's good, and I try to look those up in the Bible to get a better idea of the context while praying).
3. Set your clock for a start and stop time (if it's for something like this day of prayer--otherwise you don't need an end time). You might be having such a great time with God that you don't want to end it, but usually if you don't have the end time set it's like working out--you start watching the clock to see how much longer. Once your clock is set you can turn that part of your brain off and just wait for it to tell you you're done.
4. Pray out loud. Doesn't matter if you're alone or not (although obviously alone is better). This helps you stay awake (What's that? I'm the only one who falls asleep while praying? Riiiight...). It also helps you stay focused. Your ears hear the way you drift off to planning your day or making a shopping list, and get you back on track.
5. Write down the random, off-topic things that come to mind so you don't deceive yourself and think you're supposed to cut your prayer time short and do those things. Once they're written down, forget about them until later.
6. Also write down the cool things God shows you, because sometimes when you're done you can't remember it all.
7. When you're out of things to pray about, go through the little tips you know, like praying the way Jesus did, ACTS, ABCs (look these up), or just ask God to help you pray. If you're praying for another person, ask for empathy and brokenness for her, and He will increase your passion and interest in interceding for her. Make sure to think back to all the amazing things He has done for you or others and thank Him for those.
8. Remember that prayer is communicating with God, so just talking at Him isn't enough. Talk to Him and leave time for Him to answer. Ask Him to prepare your heart to hear from Him, ask Him to show you anything you need, and then just be still. Jot down anything that comes to mind but wait, wait, wait for more. It's not always the first thing that comes to mind that you need to know. Sometimes it's waiting in faith for more answers. More of His heart. More wisdom. When you find your mind wandering off, do your best to control it or just move back to talking out loud to God.
9. Don't be ashamed to be honest with God. He knows it all anyway, and the brokenness that comes from admitting your sin and struggles helps you grow closer to Him and to be more holy.
10. Seemed like a good idea to have an even 10 points here, but I can't think of another.
Anyway, here is some information about the 24-hour prayer-a-thon. Please consider signing up. You can pray from anywhere for an hour and it'll bless you so much to see how He answers! Sometimes it isn't in the way we expect or desire.
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