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  Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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  Feature Article

Preparing to Pray

Pray The Vote

Praying free from distraction: How to stay focused

By Carol Hatcher

Prayer…is there any other single thing more needed—or more important— in America today than prayer? This is truly a time for earnestly directing praise and our supplications unto Almighty God on behalf of our country and our leaders.

Under Public Law 105-225, the first Thursday in May each year is designated as a National Day of Prayer, where individuals can turn to God. Not only is it a privilege to be able to come before the Throne of the King of Kings, but 1 Timothy 2:1-2 is a reminder that it is the Christian’s civic duty as well.

Before you join with millions of other Americans on May 4, 2017, we urge you to make April a month of preparation [MORE}

Praying Free from Distraction

With sweaty palms, you walk into your boss’s office and close the door behind you. No turning back now. Your boss looks up from behind his computer and raises his eyebrows. You have his full attention. You’ve thought long and hard about how to ask for a raise. Clearing your throat, you open your mouth to speak—but notice a tiny plastic ruby ring inside a clear plastic ball from a bubble gum machine on his desk.

Would you stop and pick up the ring from your boss’s desk? Or maybe just sit and wonder about the story behind it while he sits and waits for you to reveal the reason for your visit? It sounds preposterous to consider doing anything but speaking as your boss waits, but how often do we wonder about the bubble gum ring while talking to God?

Consider the audience

When Billy Graham was asked the question on his website, "I know we’re supposed to pray, and I try to, but often my mind drifts to other things when I’m praying, or I’ll get sleepy. I know that’s not good, but how can I avoid it?" His response was simple – consider to whom you are praying.

"You aren’t praying to yourself or another person; you are praying to God, the all-powerful and glorious creator of the universe," Graham explained. "If you were asked to speak to the president of the United States or the queen of England, would you fall asleep or allow your mind to wander? I doubt it. How much greater is God! He alone is "majestic in holiness, awesome in glory" (Exodus 15:11)."

Choose the right time

If you are overly tired or even hungry, you may find it hard to stay focused. Choose a time during the day when you are at your best and give that time to the Lord. For many, it’s the morning. Jesus provided a perfect example for that. "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." (Mark 1:35)

King David also sought God early in the day. "O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch." (Psalm 5:3) Don’t choose to pray in the bed if you know you will fall asleep. As Billy Graham put it, "Give God the best moments of your day." Doesn’t He deserve it?

Remove all distractions

Finding quiet in the midst of the many things vying for your attention can be a challenge, but God deserves your full focus. Choose a spot for prayer away from the television and computer. Turn your cell phone on silence or put it in another room. While the ability to get in touch with people any time any place can be wonderful, it can also be a struggle when you don’t want to be interrupted.

Create a plan

"Praying for you," has almost become as common as asking, "How are you doing?" Christians and non-Christians alike often volunteer to pray for friends and family only to forget about the request as soon as they are out of sight or mind. The best way to remember requests and to stay focused on prayer is to have a plan of action.

Get a small notebook and use it as a prayer journal. Make a list inside of all the people you pray for daily. Some may be ongoing, such as your spouse or children, others may be timely, such as a friend’s surgery next Tuesday. As your timely needs are answered, cross them off the "Prayer needs" list and add them to the "Answered Prayers" list. As you pray each day, use your journal to keep your mind on the task at hand.


There are so many needs in this nation to bring to the Almighty, and God invites us into His throne room. But as you enter, remember to show Him the reverence He deserves. Honor Him with praise and thanksgiving before coming with your list of petitions.

As you choose your time for focused prayer for this nation, and as the Lord leads, pray:

•For more Americans to recognize and utilize the power of prayer.

•For your national leaders look for direction from God.

• For more focus in your own personal prayer time.

Carol Hatcher is a former elementary school teacher turned speaker and writer. She has contributed to many books and magazines and is a regular contributor to the Vantage Point devotional series. This southern belle lives with her husband and three children in Commerce, GA.


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Pray the Vote is a nationwide movement to “encourage informed prayer” for the 2016 Presidential elections.

It is based on the belief that, when God’s people cry out to Him in earnest and heartfelt prayer, He will bless our nation in ways we cannot foresee. Our prayers open a window for God to work across our land.

Your prayers will change the world.

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