Have you ever found yourself with your mind wandering when you started to pray? You have great intentions, but after a few minutes you find yourself wondering about something on Amazon or falling asleep.
That’s a pretty common experience for people.
I think that Scripture has some interesting suggestions for us: 1) praying through Scriptures and 2) writing down your prayers.
Have you ever considered this: all the Psalms from Psalm 1 to Psalm 72 are actually prayers that David wrote down. Look carefully at the end of Book Two of the Psalter (Psalm 42-72), the text says in 72:20, “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.” That is, Psalms 1-41 (Book One of the Psalter) and Psalm 42-72 (Book Two of the Psalter) are actually collections of the prayers/songs that David used when he prayed. Notice, he wrote down his prayers and then he prayed through them as part of his relationship with God.
And if you look at Psalm 72:1, you can see that Solomon actually wrote Psalm 72. David took a Psalm, inspired by God though not written by David, and David prayed that Psalm with the others as part of his prayers.
Daniel wrote down his prayers in Daniel 9:3-21. Notice the confession of his personal and also the corporate sins of Israel. Scripture says that God quickly answered that prayer (Daniel 9:23). Notice that the prayer of Daniel 9 came out of Daniel’s study of Jeremiah 25:12.
So, Daniel prayed through Scripture.
Jesus instructed the disciples how to pray, and He gave them the Lord’s prayer. The Greek surrounding that text actually says, “Whenever you pray, continually (implied by the verb tense) pray. . .” In other words, Jesus wanted the disciples to include the ideas from the Lord’s prayer whenever they prayed.
The fact that Jesus inspired two slightly different versions of the prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 means that Jesus wants the ideas prayed not simply the words.
Paul wrote down his prayers, and we have many of them in the first paragraphs of each of his epistles (that’s true of all of them except Galatians). Paul was so mad at the Galatians for abandoning the gospel that he omits the expected prayer of thanksgiving at the beginning of other books.
We also have Jesus’s High-priestly prayer in John 17. Notice that Jesus is praying parts of the Lord’s prayer. Consider “not my will but yours be done.”
So here’s my advice: Get a document with some of God’s promises to you as a believer; start including those when you pray to God.
I have found this delightfully encouraging in prayer; they focus my mind.