Being More Intentional with Prayer

“Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” (Psalm 141:2, NLT)

Prayer is my jam this week.

Why? I was challenged by a new friend to take part in a seven-day prayer challenge, designed to deepen and enrich prayer life by focusing it past all the requests and drivel that tends to bog down our time with God. Over the past few days, changing and repurposing certain details of my prayer time has reignited my desire to share my heart and time with Jesus.

Let’s face it: between the internet, work, family, school, and coveted “me” time, there is no shortage of excuses for why we can’t disconnect from our daily schedules to steal away with the Lord. We’re too

busy to pray. We’re too tired to pray. We’re too bored with praying to pray.

Not me, man. Not anymore.

Because this challenge, in all of its readings has brought my attention to this sobering thought: If I do not withdraw to the Lord, then what do I withdraw to? Take a minute to apply that question to yourself, because I know I was feeling a little convicted when I connected with that thought for the first time. If we don’t withdraw to the Lord, then where are we withdrawing to when we come to the quiet moments of our day? You can’t withdraw to nothing and there is no in-between. You either are hiding yourself in Christ, or you’re not; and if you’re not, you’re hiding in something of this world, even if you don’t even realize you’re doing it.

I don’t need to give you hypotheticals because I know your “thing” popped into your head as you read along. That’s called conviction; I know because I felt the same thing. Now, you have a choice: you can roll over and accept defeat, or you can use that conviction as a catalyst to reawaken and realign your focus back on hiding yourself in Christ.

This week, I’m purposing to not only pray more but to pray with intention. I don’t want my prayers to be a honey-do list for Jesus, nor do I want them to be so much of my regular thought process that I let myself lose concentration on the most important conversation at hand. This week, my power verse is Psalm 141:2, “Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” In the operations of temples in the Old Testament, incense was used in different sacred proceedings and offerings. It was a precious resource that was expensive to make and a sign of real wealth. Between gathering different spices and gums, grinding them down, drawing out their extracts, and combining them into precious objects of worship, incense production was like an art. So, when it comes to certain poetic parts of scripture, incense is often used as an indicator of pure and precious prayer or worship.

That’s what we’re going for here. Prayer that sacrifices flesh. Prayer that offers up our most precious resource, time, and turns our face back to the Father. I don’t know about you, but I want my prayer to be sweet and pleasing to Jesus like incense. Not because it’s exceptionally crafted or long-winded or put together with grand words and metaphors, but because it comes straight from my heart and soul. I want my prayer to come from a place of love, not obligation.

And I’m finding that the more I make it my goal to do that, the more I find myself praying, simply because I enjoy spending time with Him. I’m coming across worship music that breaks my heart wide open to His awesome love for me. I’m reading scripture that blesses my socks off, and I’m hearing from the Lord in unusual ways.

Today, I encourage you to take time to withdraw to Jesus. Pause the Netflix, believe me, it’ll be right where you left it when you’re done. Log off social media; nothing is going on there that can’t be dealt with later. Ask that family member to give you twenty minutes to take care of some heart-keeping. I know, I know, twenty minutes seems like a lot, but let’s be real, do you really have something super-pressing to accomplish within that time or is your flesh trying to make up excuses to not press in?

Remember, we’re not going for eloquence, here. We’re going for quality time spent with Jesus: sweet, aromatic, and precious. If you need a little worship music to get you in the zone, listen to the awesomely simple little tune I’m leaving below. It’s been the prayer on my heart since the new year.

Lord, I pray that today, you would meet with my Soul Deep friends. I ask that you break their hearts wide open to quality time spent with you– that you would make it compelling and engaging. I ask that you would give them obvious moments where they could make the choice to intentionally withdraw to you and allow you to reveal more of yourself to them. I love you, Lord, Amen.

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