Jesus Over Everything
If you knew the things I think about, you'd probably be scared. I have a really random brain. A journey through my brain is probably similar to getting lost on Youtube. One minute you're watching a video about how to fix something you broke and then the next thing you know you've somehow found your way to watching rappers rap with and without autotune. My brain bounces from thought to thought and before I know it, I'm thinking about completely ridiculous things.
I think most of us would say we all have a bit of mental ADD in us. Maybe you're like me and no matter how hard you try and focus when someone is praying out loud, you can't help but start thinking about something you have to do later or something totally unrelated; sometimes I go in with the intent to focus and instead of focusing well, I think too much about focusing.
A Call for Intense Focus
Paul instructs believers in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I read that and my first reaction is, "Impossible! I can't pray without ceasing. That sounds so hard. Who is the person who has the mental ninja skills to do this?"
It's not just that one time we see it commanded though. Paul says to be constant in prayer in Romans 12:12. He says to be steadfast in prayer in Colossians 4:2. Jesus tells His disciples to always pray and not lose heart in Luke 18:1. We see in Psalm 1:2 that the man who meditates on God's law day and night is described as blessed. The Psalmist in 119:97 says he meditates all day on God's law.
The thought of praying without ceasing or meditating on God's law day and night may seem overwhelming or even impossible to achieve. Honestly, I am not good at it, but I think these extremes are used to show us first that God wants us in our entirety. When Jesus saves us, He asks for total surrender. Every waking thought day and night should belong to Him. Also, when we see words like "rejoice" and "blessed", we should understand that this is not a burdensome command, but a command that will give us more joy than simply continuing in our ADD thought patterns.
So how do we get better at this? I think the key is little by little. Scripture memory is a great tool for meditating on God's Word. When we hide His word in our heart then we are constantly thinking about it in order to store it in our brains and then once we have memorized it, we can access it and meditate on it at any time in the day. When I have been disciplined to memorize Scripture, I have found that my outlook is better, my heart is more satisfied, and my joy is increased.
With prayer, we can begin to thank God for simple things we use or enjoy day to day. This places our delight in the Giver over the gift, which is where our delight should be directed. Also, visual aids can serve as reminders for us to pray. Our church gave out bracelets with the word, "one", reminding us to pray for someone we love and know far from God. When I look down and see this bracelet, I am reminded to pray for that person.
I know people much better at both of these than myself. I write this to myself more than I do to anyone who may be reading it, but I hope that you might find it encouraging and challenging as I do. We should always be striving in life to think about and talk to God more. He has given us Christ that our joy may be ever increasing. When we think about Christ's sacrifice in our place and then meditate on how to follow Him better, our joy and love for Him can only grow. May we never be satisfied with where we are, but strive to look more and more like our Savior.