Keeping your mind on prayer

Keeping your mind on prayer

By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

What do you think about the most? What gets most of your attention?

A rodeo cowboy, especially on the roughstock side of the arena, is always thinking about his sport. Where he’s going to enter, what went wrong or right the weekend before. How he’s going to get his fees paid this week. Visualizing bull or bronc ride after bronc ride.

A rancher is always thinking about his stock and operation. How he’s going to finance the new barn. What’s the weather going to be like next week. When does he need to be ready to move the cattle to the summer pastures. What are the prices doing.

More than a lot of work or interests, both of these lifestyles demand we give it much of our time and attention to be successful so our thoughts are never far from it.

That’s what Paul means when he tells us to pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Toward the end of his letter to this church, Paul offers them several sets of instructions in how to conduct themselves in a Christ-like way from trying to do whats right to someone to being thankful even when we might not be feeling grateful for a challenge we’re face.

In that list, he gives us a three-word instruction that sound impossible: pray without ceasing.

How can we possible do this. Even if I didn’t have to fight against my mind wandering after a few minutes of praying, how am I supposed to pray and never stop? How can I always keep my attention on prayer and accomplish any other task at the same time?

But it isn’t about constantly praying to God through every waking moment. Paul wants us to develop a heart for prayer. He wants us to have an attitude that is aware of the opportunities around us to pray so that we are always ready to go to God.

The same way rodeo or ranching takes a lot of our attention, our thoughts about God’s presence should never be far from our minds. Having a thoughtful readiness to pray helps us keep God in the front of our thinking.

We understand through numerous other verses the importance of prayer, the different reasons for praying and how it is much more than just asking God to meet what we think our needs are.

With prayer being so important, Paul wants us to see that we should always be looking for those moments when we can pray.

A person with a heart or attitude toward prayer will find himself just naturally praying in his mind for God to give calm to that nervous barrel racer back for her first time after a wreck that injured her horse. That person will automatically think to pray for the people in the car wreck he passed on the way to the rodeo. The rancher will automatically pray for his wife off and on throughout the day despite the distractions of two calves being born while she starts her new job.

It takes practice, but the more we are intentional about opportunities to pray, the easier it gets to find ourselves always ready to pray.

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