Bills, to-do lists, upcoming field trips, work demands. There’s a lot vying for people’s attention these days. There are so…

How to Stay Focused in Prayer

by Fia Curley
3/26/15 Prayer

Bills, to-do lists, upcoming field trips, work demands. There’s a lot vying for people’s attention these days. There are so many reasons to pray, and, at times, the things we’re praying about can be the same things distracting us from our prayers.

Prayer is a great privilege, and at the same time, a fierce struggle, and a powerful miracle of the Spirit, who helps us in our weakness, particularly when it comes to staying focused in prayer.

In a recent poll on our Facebook page, many of our followers identified the challenge of staying focused as a hindrance to their times of prayer.

Prayer was never meant to be duty-based, or merely results-oriented. Rather, it is the place of encounter with God, where our spirit is energized as we grow to love Him more. It positions us to love God and people by receiving God’s love. 
It also releases His blessing on our circumstances, and results in real changes in the Church, the nations, and society, as well as in the lives of our loved ones. 
Truly, “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5:16).

Although many may have the desire to pray, encountering stray thoughts, upset feelings, and legitimate distractions make it a challenge to stay focused. When we remember God wants us to pray, we are encouraged to persist in the place of prayer.

The God of the universe wants us to connect with His heart in deep partnership. Therefore, asking God for everything is a foundational principle of the kingdom. We must specifically ask, not just think about our need with frustration and desperation.

“In everything by prayer . . . let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

Only through a lifestyle of prayer can we receive the fullness of what God has provided for us. A prayer list helps brings all our requests together. It is an essential tool to help maintain focus during your prayer times, especially when you feel tired or distracted.

If you use two simple tools—scheduling prayer times on your calendar and creating prayer lists—you will find that you pray so much more, and that you stay more focused when you pray.

Your prayers aren’t limited to what’s on your list, but instead the prayer list acts as a guide to help “jump start” your prayer time and help you maintain your focus.

How to Develop a Prayer List

When developing a prayer list, it is helpful to consider these three themes:

  • The gifts of the Spirit—God’s power and favor being released
  • The fruit of the Spirit—God’s character formed in us or others
  • The wisdom of the Spirit—God’s mind or the spirit of revelation imparted

We ask for the gifts, fruit, and wisdom of the Spirit to be released in each prayer focus:

Intimacy: We focus on giving our love and devotion to God. This type of prayer includes worship, meditation on the Word (pray-reading it), and fellowshipping with the Spirit.

Personal petition: We ask for God’s blessing on our personal life and ministry. We pray for breakthrough for our inner man (heart), circumstances (physical, financial, relational), and ministry, that God’s power would be released through our hands, words, and deeds.

Intercession: We ask for God’s power or justice for others.

  • Prayer for people and places—family and friends, individuals in ministries, business, and government—and for the destiny of ministries, cities, and nations (e.g., missions organizations, Jerusalem, Egypt, etc.)
  • Prayer for strategic issues in society: government (elections, abortion), oppression (human trafficking, harsh regimes), natural disasters (hurricanes, droughts), diseases, etc.

Here are a couple of prayer lists to help you get started:

Find further inspiration for developing your prayer life in Mike Bickle’s latest book, Growing in Prayer: A Real-Life Guide to Talking with God »

Fia Curley


    Fia Curley served on the NightWatch at IHOPKC for many years, participating in prayer, worship, and intercession from midnight to 6am. Currently attending college in New York, she enjoys blending her passion for prayer, worship, and journalism as she labors with the Lord to see His goodness revealed to families, government leaders, and immigrants from non-Christian nations.

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