John 17:1

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.

If you’ve ever coached a youth sports team, you know that their focus on the game is about 40% of the time. They like to play in the dirt, look into the bleachers to find family, or just use the time for socializing. Golf while a slow paced sport, still requires one to be both mentally and physically alert and focused. Taking off just one shot can lead to losing focus entirely and an inability to regain it.

Our prayer lives require similar focus and an “all in” mentality. We must be both physically and spiritually in tune in order to effectively call upon God with our petitions and concerns. The Puritan pastor Anthony Burgess wrote, “To pray is such a solemn worship of God, that it requireth the whole man, the intellectual part, all our judgment, invention, and memory is to be employed therein, as also the whole heart, the will and affections, yea, and body also.” Thus, prayer is considered a form of worship of God which requires our body, mind, memory and heart in agreement. Consider when we ask for repentance for an indiscretion while still physically or mentally in a state of such sin. Our body and mind are not in conjunction and therefore cannot truly be in a spirit for change.

Our memory is also an important aspect of our prayer life. Recall the last time someone asked you to pray for a family member and you were unable to remember who it was or their name. Yes, God knows the name and the need, but how much more meaning would be attached if we made an effort to pray for the person immediately instead of depending upon our memory during our regular appointed prayer time?

Recall the last time that you tried to pray while physically tired or mentally distracted. If you are anything like me, you fell asleep or your mind immediately went to another subject before the completion of the prayer. Jesus lifted His eyes to Heaven when he prayed to His father before gave himself to the cross. His prayer was focused to the One to whom it was directed. This prayer was the culmination of his ministry on earth and He desired the favor of His Father. When we direct our focus toward the One we are praying, we are less apt to be distracted by our plans for the next day or how loud our spouse is snoring. A directed prayer is a focused prayer.

When we pray, there is no reason to look anywhere else but up. “Up” the only place things can go when we take our concerns to our Heavenly Father. When we are discouraged, bent, broken, or just thankful, God wants to know we recognize He is the healer of our ruin and the origin of our blessings. Through His Son, we have an intercessor and mediator who is our conduit to the highest court. When we look up either physically or figuratively, we recognize it is the Father and His Son who can “do a few things.”

When we feel the least like praying, it is then when we most need to pray. If we feel disinterested in our prayer life, it is either because we feel as if we have everything down here under control or there is sin disrupting the relationship. God wants to hear from us in either case. He wants us to realize that only He is in control and He desires a “right relationship” with His children. Let us be both physically and spiritually “zoned in” this new year. Our life and the lives of those around us need to be lifted up for both healing and thankfulness.

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