Tag Archives: prayer closet

Giving God Attention

How many times have you had a conversation with someone, but your mind was elsewhere? Probably too many times to count. I’m usually thinking about several things trying to solve a problem or find a solution to them. When someone engages me in conversation during these times, I’m honestly not listening to them talk in those cases. Im present in the conversation, but not mentally in it. To be honest, it even happens when I’m not trying to solve things, but I’ve had to learn that listening and engaging with others is one of the best ways to value them. I have to tell myself (while they’re talking) to pay attention and listen. Otherwise, if it’s not something I’m really interested in or don’t see how it relates to me, my mind wants to wander. I’ve had to train myself to be present in conversations.

If it happens to you with people, it also happens to you in prayer. How many times have you started to pray and then you remember you were supposed to do something? Our minds start to wander and think of things we need to be doing instead of engaging with God in prayer. Those voices need to shut down immediately or your prayer time will turn into a thinking time. I have to stop the thoughts the moment they come in. I’ve got a friend who keeps a notebook beside him when he prays. He writes down those things that pop in his mind so he has a to-do list when he’s done. He jokingly says, “I let the devil be my secretary. He tries to disrupt my prayer, but I use it as him giving me all the things I need to do.” However you choose to do it, prayer is something we must engage in with our utmost attention. We are speaking with the King of Kings after all. He deserves our attention.

Colossians 4:2 says, “Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving” (AMP). To get the answers we need from Heaven, we need to be persistent in our prayer. Jesus gave a couple of parables about this. We must also be alert and focused during our prayer time giving God all of our attention. Prayer closets are a good place to block everything else out to give God your complete attention. I also recommend leaving your phone somewhere else and finding a time when you won’t be disrupted by others. When our prayer life suffers, our relationship with Him suffers. God loves quality time and the best way to do that is to have a set time when you can engage with Him in prayer uninterrupted and to stay focused on Him. Quick short prayers are good, but they’re like text messages. A relationship can’t thrive on just texts. Have focused conversations with God too and you’ll see your relationship with Him bloom like never before.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Distraction Free

Are you a multitasker? In today’s world, it’s hard not to be. Our lives are busier than ever. Eight hours isn’t enough time to complete our work so we bring it home. Our devices offer a steady stream of sounds to get us to check them. There are more channels than ever on the TV. In short, we live lives where we can easily be distracted and lose our train of thought or not hear what someone is telling us. It’s great to have all these advances, but it has killed our attention span. Some research shows that in the last 20 years, our attention span has reduced by 25% to about 8 seconds. It’s hard to give someone quality time with that, let alone God.

I think that why Jesus recommended that you and I have a prayer closet. It’s a distraction free environment where you and I can spend time alone with God. If you are tempted to do other things on your phone, use a paper Bible instead of a digital one. If your mind thinks of everything you have to do, take a piece of paper in with you and make your todo list as those thought come up. If people interrupt you, have your time while everyone is sleeping. Anything that takes your attention off of God is a distraction. If you’re going to have a deeper relationship with God, then you need to remove the distractions that hamper it.

Here are some Bible verses on distractions.

1. For every soldier called to active duty must divorce himself from the distractions of this world so that he may fully satisfy the one who chose him.

2 Timothy 2:4 TPT

2. And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit.

MATTHEW 13:22 AMP

3. Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm.

Colossians 3:2 TPT

4. I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

1 Corinthians 7:35 NLT

5. Set your gaze on the path before you. With fixed purpose, looking straight ahead, ignore life’s distractions.

Proverbs 4:25 TPT

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Protecting Our Relationship With God

I get the opportunity to talk to different people all the time. Inevitably someone wants to ask me relationship questions. I’m not a trained counselor or anything like that, but as I listen to these stories, there’s a constant thread through all of them. The problems they’re experiencing are a result of a lot of little things that have crept in and gone unchecked. Also, they haven’t done things to protect the relationship. When that happens, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back ends up happening and it gets the blame. The truth is it was several small, basic things that added up.

Just like any relationship, we have to make sure that we do the small, basic things in our relationship with Christ. We need to set parameters and protect it. We live in a connected world where everything seems to be vying for your attention. If we allow little things to distract us and keep us from praying or reading our Bible or going to church, it will become difficult to have that relationship that God wants to have with us. We must protect that time. We must make it sacred so that nothing and no one comes between us and God.

I’m reading the Bible book Song of Songs (Solomon) in the Passion translation. They’ve taken it and put in red letters the parts that are allegorically from God. Chapter 2:15 says this to us from God, “You must catch the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love to ruin what I’ve planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for me? We will do it together” (TPT). God is asking us to protect our relationship with Him. I also love that just like any other relationship, it’s not just one side’s responsibility. We need to work together with God to remove the obstacles in our relationship so it can grow.

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Intimate Conversations

Whenever I travel for work, it’s important to stay in contact with my wife. Sometimes when we end up talking I’m at the airport or I’m at dinner or while I’m with coworkers. It’s hard to have good conversations in those places. It’s often noisy, people are trying to get my attention or I’m trying to find where I’m going so I’m somewhat distracted. The best conversations are when I’m away from all the noise in the quiet of my hotel room. Only then can we truly have interruption free conversations where it doesn’t have to be quick snippets.

Luke 5:16 says, “As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer” (MSG). Having intimate conversations with His father while He was here was important to Him. People were constantly vying for His attention and needing a miracle. Often, He just wanted to have a quiet conversation. Many times He had those quick conversations in front of people, but very often we read where Jesus went to a desolate place to pray. If it was important for Him to do that, how much more important for us?

At one point, Jesus told us to go into our closet to pray. I don’t know that He meant that literally. I think what He was saying was that we need to find a quiet place where we can have some uninterrupted prayer time. We can’t always go to an out of the way place to pray, but we can find space to get alone with Him. It may be a closet or it could be before everyone wakes up or after they go to bed, but we each need to find time to get alone with God so we can have intimate conversations with Him. I believe the quality of our relationship with Him hinges on it.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Intimate Conversations 


I like to tell people that I’m the busiest person I know. I carry two phones with three numbers attached to them. I work a full time job, write, do ministry, and drive for Uber at night. I look around though, and see other people who are just as busy. Somehow in our world, we equate busyness with value. The more we do, the greater we are. Even in the Church, we have adopted this mentality with ministers and lay leaders. We are always on the clock, we never take a sabbatical, and we never say “no” to anything or anyone.

That’s not the example Jesus gave us for ministry. Even though He was very busy and sought after, Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (NLT). The model He gave us was to step away from our duties often to spend time alone with the Father. He understood that it is not wise to continually give without going to the Father for a refill. As our lives become more busy, our intimate conversations alone with God in our prayer closet should increase.

Revival is coming and we need to be in the habit of stepping aside from all the distractions to spend time alone in prayer. Performing miracles, leading the lost to the cross, caring for the poor, and preaching are not supposed to take the place of our quiet time with God. He wants us to understand that busyness equals distractions and distractions keep us from going into our prayer closet. We can’t have the power of God flowing through us until we have been intimate with Him. God has always valued alone time with Him more than our busyness for Him.

Think of Martha and Mary. Martha was the one who welcomed Jesus into their home and as Luke 10:40 says, “was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing.” Mary was the one who was just sitting at the Lord’s feet listening. When Martha complained that she was doing all the work, the Lord replied, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it.” Each of us need to discover what that is as well. We need to take time often to just sit at the feet of Jesus, away from the distractions, and listen. That is what Jesus values and what we should value as well.

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My Response To: Why Morning Prayer Is Not Essential To The Christian Life

I’d like to start off by reminding you that my friend and fellow blogger, Michael Stephens, and I often engage in dialogues where we share different points of view. We have a mutual respect for each other and find that our discussions open our own perspectives to see things in a different light. We often discuss theology, current events, pop culture, and politics. Our discussions are meant to share a point of view more than to convince the other that one of us is right and the other is wrong. We thought it would be fun to share one of our dialogues with you. This is my response to his assertion that morning prayer is not essential to the Christian life.

To read what he wrote before you read my response, click here.


Solitude is Essential

Michael said the following about the discipline of solitude, “The establishment of spiritual discipline in the heart is imperative.” We both agree on this point. Yes, prayer can be done anytime, anywhere, but throughout scripture, those places of solitude provided distraction free zones in which to commune with God. Jesus often went away to solitary places to pray. He even told us in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open” (AMP).

Michael also wrote that “Solitude can be created in chaotic times and places.” While I agree with that statement, not everyone has developed the discipline to do that. I once read the story of a Native American in New York City who was walking through the streets. He heard something and began walking down an alley. There it was, a cricket. He had heard it chirping above all the noise of the city. While he could hear it, most could not. They, like we, are too distracted by all the noise in our life to hear that still small voice in the chaos of life. That’s why solitude is so important, and what better time to find it than in the morning before our world gets noisy with texts, calls, emails, and other distractions?

We should pray when our hearts are most receptive and our minds are most alert

I agree with that statement and studies show, it’s in the morning. I remember in my first semester of college, my psychology professor gave us some helpful advice. He said, “Studies show that the later in the day it gets, the less function your mind has.” The National Sleep Foundation recently said that being awake 18 hours is the equivalent of having .08 blood alcohol level, which is the legal limit for being drunk. The later in the day we wait to pray, the less in control we have over our thoughts and actions. Our minds are freshest in the morning.

Michael mentioned that he used to be a morning prayer person, but it sometimes felt like a chore. The truth is that whatever time you pray can be considered “a chore”. I have a friend that I’m an accountability partner for in his prayer life. I have a reminder on my phone at 9:30 PM to remind him to pray. He too says it often feels like a chore, so he needs motivation to pray. If you’re finding that your prayer time feels like a chore, ask a friend to hold you accountable or keep a prayer journal so you can write down what God is saying to you. These will keep you on your toes and help make prayer exciting.

God always hears our prayers

Amen and thank God for it! No matter where we are or what situation we are in, God always hears our prayers. Michael wrote, “A morning prayer is no less heard than a prayer made on the busiest corner of Los Angeles at the height of Rush Hour.” Again, I agree with that statement, but what we are discussing here is not what I call a 9-1-1 prayer. We are talking about a set aside time to commune with God where we share our heart and listen to his. It’s difficult to do that on that corner in Los Angeles.

We both agree that prayer is essential to the Christian life. It is our lifeblood that keeps us going. Show me a person who doesn’t spend time with God each day and I’ll show you a person who will struggle in their faith the moment hard times come. Each of us will face those moments in life. Our survival is dependent on how deep our roots are in the famines of life. Prayer, alone time with God that is set aside, is what grows those roots. Tomorrow, I will dive deeper into what it means to commune with God.

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More Powerful Prayers


When you read the Gospels, it’s clear that Jesus was a man of prayer. He often went away from the group to pray. I’m sure He prayed a lot with His disciples and in front of them. It was one such occasion a disciple asked Him to teach them to pray like Him. I’m sure they could tell there was a difference in His prayers compared to theirs. There was power and authority in His prayers.  

They wanted that and so should we. After the question was asked, I’m sure all the disciples and everyone sat up and started to really pay attention. Now I’m not going to go break down the Lord’s Prayer for you, but I’m going to talk about the importance of not only praying, but praying with a purpose. I think we as Christians miss out on this, and our prayers lack power because of it.

Why don’t we take great care when we are crafting a prayer to the God of Creation? Why do we think it’s ok to just throw something together and hope He hears it and responds to it? I’m not saying that those prayers shouldn’t exist or we shouldn’t pray them, but when it comes to prayers of authority and meaning, we need to think through what we’re saying. The example He gave us was succinct, meaningful, and to the point.

In Matthew 6:9 leading up to the Lord’s Prayer, He said, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” He was telling us to let our prayers come from the heart and not a ritual. He wanted our prayers to have purpose and meaning. They shouldn’t be for show, which is why He told us to go to our prayer closet. Prayer should be a connection between you and God.

There are lots of ways to pray and I’m not saying any of them are wrong. God is happy when we speak to Him. But if you’re like the disciple who asked Jesus to teach him to pray knowing that there’s another level, I encourage you to be more deliberate with setting aside time to spend with God. If we set aside alone time for friends, family, and spouses, we should do the same for God. Your prayers can be more powerful and intimate. It’s just going to need to come from your heart and not your repetition.

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Clear The Mechanism

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It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “Be Still and Know that I am God Promise Journal”. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

When you think of Kevin Costner and baseball, you probably think of “Field of Dreams”. You probably don’t think of “For Love of the Game”. I think it’s one of his most underrated movies. In it he plays an aging pitcher who is being forced to decide if he should retire or be traded. He’s pitching at an opponents stadium and the crowd is loud. They’re trying to disrupt his concentration while he’s pitching. Before each pitch he says, “Clear the mechanism,” and he shuts out the crowd noise so he can concentrate.

I always thought that was cool and I wanted to be able to do it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that the ability to do that is necessary when spending time with God. My mind is always working, thinking or solving. It rarely gets a rest. I have sleep apnea and when I don’t have my CPAP or mouth guard, my mind thinks all night long. When I try to get still and spend time reading the Bible or praying, my mind kicks into gear and thinks about everything but spiritual things. It’s aggravating.

I want to concentrate on God and what He’s saying, but the very moment that I get quiet, something pops in. Sometimes it’s a song. Sometimes it’s the to do list for my day. Sometimes it’s about how I’m going to resolve an issue. Five, ten or more minutes go by and I realize that I haven’t been praying or reading. I get back at it and it’s not long before I’m off on a rabbit trail. I know I’m not the only one who deals with this. I think we all do in some way. I’ve learned and trained myself to clear the mechanism in my own way. It’s not 100% effective, but it works most of the time.

When a thought pops in during my quiet time, I’ve learned to do one of two things. The first thing I do is challenge the thought. When it threatens to distract me, I challenge it and push it back out. If I can’t push it out, I write it down or save it in my phone for after. That way, I can control the thought by setting myself free that I’ll address it when I’m done. I’m then free to concentrate on what matters. I’m open to hear from God and study His Word in depth. I’ve found that when I clear the mechanism, I’m free to receive. My quiet time has become growth time.

What are some things you do to clear the mechanism in your quiet time? I’m always looking to grow and when we each share what we do, we help others who haven’t found a way to clear theirs.

If you would like to win the “Be Still and Know that I am God Promise Journal”, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (February 8, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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Where’s Your Roof?

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One of my favorite things to do in Haiti is to get up before everyone else and meet with God on the roof of the guest house. There’s nothing quite like sitting up there watching the sun rise light up the mountain and spending time alone with God. As the tap taps and moto taxis go honking by with music blaring, there’s a quietness that can be found up there where I can block all of that out and just relax in the presence of God as I enjoy His creation and spend time in His Word. Most people on the team will also find their “roof” somewhere in the house where they can meet God. I love walking around the house seeing Bibles opened, coffee in one hand and a journal in the other.

With expectant hearts and open ears, we wait to hear from God. We hang on His every word to write it down and to share with others. We fill our spiritual tank each morning because we’re about to go give it all out throughout the day. After breakfast we have a team devotion where one person shares what God is showing them. I love to see how excited people get when all of a sudden God’s Word becomes alive to them. Scriptures they had read several times before start making sense to them. Words they had never seen or glazed over become real and applicable. We receive so much while we’re there because we expect so much.

My question is, “How do we duplicate that once we get back?” The first thing I tell those who as is to find their balcony or roof back home. In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to go into our closet when we pray. I don’t think He literally meant to go in there. He was telling us to go so we here private where we can be alone with God. He wanted us to find a place where we can just sit in His presence and expect to hear from Him. He wanted us to find a place in our every day lives where we could have our Bible open, coffee in hand, a journal in front of us and to be excited to be in His presence.

I believe God wants to have daily encounters with each of us. He doesn’t want to just do it when we’re on a mission trip. He wants to meet us in our every day life. If it means we get up an hour before the kids do or stay up an hour after they go to bed, that’s the sacrifice He’s looking for. We somehow expect reward without sacrifice when it comes to our relationship with Him. We expect Him to do everything in the relationship while we receive all the benefits. Your relationship with God is just like any other. It requires time, effort and sacrifice. If you want a healthy relationship with God, find your “roof” somewhere around your house and make time to be alone with Him. You’ll find that excitement you’ve been missing and you’ll hear from Him each day. Your spiritual tank will be full and you’ll be able to give out God’s love all day without worry.

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The Noise of Life

This morning started like most mornings. My alarm went off and I hit the snooze button. I did that three times before getting up. I turned on the light and grabbed my phone to read the Bible. As soon as I did, I heard music. I leaned over and checked the clock radio in my hotel room. It was off, but the music was coming from right where it was. The walls in my hotel must be paper thin. The person on the other side of the wall was waking up too. I couldn’t concentrate so I turned my clock radio on too. I put it on the AM dial and turned to where there wasn’t a station so the white noise would drown out the music.

It was still hard to concentrate as I read. I managed to get through it and find a verse to think about today. Afterwards, I went on my way to getting ready and started praying. It wasn’t long before I heard an alarm going off. It was my clock radio. I went over, hit the off button and looked or a way to keep it off. I went back across the room to pray. It went off again. I turned it off and returned to praying. As I was praying, I kept hearing all the room doors opening and closing up and down the hall. So distracting.

Jesus knew we were going to face distractions when it comes to spending time with Him because He faced distractions. That’s why He went away from the group to pray so often. It wasn’t that He didn’t enjoy their company, it was so He could get some alone time with the Father. He was trying to show the disciples by example how they should be spending time with God corporately and alone. All the Gospels talk about Jesus separating Himself to pray.

Jesus even told them in Matthew 6:6, “When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.” Part of that instruction was so that we won’t be like others who pray so others will hear them and the other part was what I’m facing today. It was to get away from the noise of life that tries to distract us from not only spending time with God, but from hearing from Him too. With all the distractions going on this morning, I had a difficult time hearing His voice. I ended up leaving the hotel to get away from all the distractions so I could have alone time with Him.

Where are you today? What distractions keep you from spending time with God? Kids? Spouse? Neighbors? Friends? Radio? TV? Your phone? Facebook? Whatever it is, find a place and time today where you can just be alone with God. Spend time talking to Him and also spend some time listening to His voice. Read His Word in the quiet so you can really understand what He is trying to say to you through it. Get away from the noise of this life so you can concentrate on God.

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