There’s a quote that has been the theme for this series on prayer: “Prayer pursues joy in fruitful fellowship with Jesus, knowing that God is glorified when we bear fruit in answer to prayer. Why do God’s children so often fail to have consistent habits of happy, fruitful prayer? Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the reasons is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.” —John Piper
And unless I’m badly mistaken, the most obvious thing we need to plan to eliminate is distractions.
Some people say they can juggle a lot of things at once. “I’m a really good multitasker,” they say. But science says differently. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller concluded that our brains are “not wired to multitask well…. When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.” What is that cognitive cost? “Multitasking can drop IQ as much as 15 points, essentially turning you into the cognitive equivalent of an 8-year-old” (Inc. Magazine).
Jesus was not a multitasker—but He was singularly focused on His Father’s plan. And yet He accomplished more in His three years of public ministry than anyone else in history!
Here are 4 strategies to help you get ready to pray:
When we get right down to it, prayer is spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18). In the context of warfare, the word strategy means the maneuvering that takes place prior to the battle. The devil is a masterful tactician, and he will do everything he can to keep you distracted.
That’s why three times Peter tells us to be clear-minded and singularly-focused in our thoughts SO THAT we can pray without the hindrances of distractions (1 Peter 1:13-14; 4:7; 5:8-9). And Paul tells us to take all our thoughts captive, so that no un-Christlike thoughts are inhibiting our prayer time (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Here are 4 strategies to help you stay focused in prayer:
I really enjoyed reading The Secrets Our Body Clocks Reveal (you can read my full book review by clicking here). From this book, I’ve begun implementing a few of the tips I discovered. Here are a few of the facts and tips that I found interesting.
I’ll be sharing some of the research that Susan Perry and Jim Dawson uncovered about the importance of sleep soon, so stay tuned!
“And behold, two men were conversing with Him—Moses and Elijah, who appeared in splendor and majesty and brightness and were speaking of His exit from life, which He was about to bring to realization at Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:30-31)
Jesus was constantly making decisions that kept Him on the path straight toward Calvary’s Cross. He would let nothing deter Him from God’s appointed mission. Even when His own friends and family urged Him to find another route.
It was at a moment like this—when Jesus had yet another choice to make about what path He would follow—that Moses and Elijah talked to Him, reminding Him of the ultimate outcome of His obedient and correct choices.
At every crossroads—at every decision point—Jesus chose correctly. He chose to do God’s will for His life. He could have decided to do things His own way, but He leaned into the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit pointing Him toward the right path.
What does that mean for us today?
I had an amazing time last week at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. Every year I came away with some many thoughts, and a brand new passion for the various leadership roles in which I get to serve.
Below are just a few of my notes that I jotted down during an intense two days.
“Everybody wins when a leader gets better.”
“Armed with enough humility, leaders can learn from anyone.”
Hybels discussed four leadership lenses:
1. Passionate leader (depicted by vibrant bright red frames)
2. People leader (cool frames, but cracked lenses)
3. Performance leader (self-adjusting glasses)
4. Legacy leader (sunglasses with a rearview mirror [cyclist])
An average commercial airline has 4 million parts!
Melinda says of herself, “I am an impatient optimist. We are changing the world, but we need to change it faster.”
“At the end of the day, you have to hear the cries of those in need, let your heart break and act in courage.”
“All of us have been entrusted with something. What are we doing to leverage it?”
In thinking about the parable of the talents … “To Jesus, faithfulness is not just sitting with what you have been given, but multiplying what you have been given. God’s mission is not maintaining.”
“Playing it safe is not enough for a follower of Jesus Christ.”
Three principles for expanding our leadership reach:
2. Empower your people
3. Embrace risk
All inputs into the brain travel through the limbic system first (emotional center) before the inputs travel to the frontal cortex. The EI (emotional intelligence) center is in the front of the brain, just above the left eye.
Only 36% of people are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen.
EQ (the Emotional Quotient that measures emotional intelligence) is not IQ.
EQ can be improved all throughout life.
Four components of emotional intelligence:
1. Self-awareness: knowing my emotions, and knowing my tendencies. I need to lean into my discomfort if I want to improve.
2. Self-management: what I do with this increased self-awareness. This is not “stuffing” my feelings. The biggest mistake is only trying to manage negative emotions; positive emotions need to be managed too.
3. Social awareness: focusing more on others than on myself.
4. Relationship management: using the first three skills in concert. Seeing how my behavior is affecting the other person, and then adjusting accordingly.
How to increase my EQ:
Three qualities of an ideal team player:
“To develop people, we have to have the courage to humbly and constantly talk to people about their ‘stuff.’”
Rahm Charan asked:
“The hardest thing a leader will ever do is drive a strategy that changes someone’s behavior.”
There are four disciplines for making changes in human behavior:
On The Culture Map communication is divided into Low vs. High Context:
Anglo-Saxon countries are typically low context.
Latin American are mid-low.
Asian countries are usually high context.
In low context we tend to nail things down in writing, where in high context we leave things more open to later interpretation.
“Context impacts communication. … We need to read both the messages ‘in the air’ as well as the explicitly stately messages.”
“In a high context culture, repeat things less, ask more questions, learn to ‘read the air.’”
“Good leaders lift.”
“You have to find the people before you lead the people.”
“The one thing leaders have to get right—they must intentionally add value to people every day.”
Five things that intentionally adds value to people:
If you attended the GLS, please share in the comments below something amazing / challenging / paradigm-busting that you learned. Let’s all keep on learning!
Do you suffer from any of these? Things that hold us back from serving others.
Dave Barringer shares 10 subtle actions that you should pay attention to in your marriage.
“Let me warn you of second-hand spirituality; it is a rotten soul-deceiving deception. Beware of all esteeming yourself according to the thoughts of others, or you will be ruined. … O I do pray you, do not be satisfied with being persuaded into something like an assurance that you are in Christ, but do know Him—know Him for yourself.” —Charles Spurgeon
“Sinning is believing a false promise from the world above a true promise from God.” Read more in Jared Mulvihill’s post We Should Be Weeping.
Eurasia Northwest has a really cool infographic on the use of healing words in the Bible.
Seth Godin says, “The chances that everyone is going to applaud you, never mind even become aware you exist, are virtually nil. Most brands and organizations and individuals that fail fall into the chasm of trying to be all things in order to please everyone, and end up reaching no one. That’s the wrong thing to focus on. Better to focus on and delight almost no one.” Check out the rest of his post Almost No One.
[VIDEO] This year’s NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers is doing some cool stuff for kids―
My son is playing baseball for his high school this season. Whether I’m at a game or a practice, whether the Red Hawks are up to bat or out in the field, I hear the phrase over and over again: Keep your eye on the ball!
Pretty good advice. It’s awfully hard to field the ball when you are distracted by something else. It’s next to impossible to hit the ball when you don’t watch it all the way from the pitcher’s hand.
As a pastor, people tell me frequently about a stumble into sin, a failure in their marriage, a relapse into their addiction, a slip of the tongue. And I want to repeat the phrase over and over again: Keep your eyes on Jesus!
It’s awfully hard to say no to sin that seems so attractive when you aren’t looking at the surpassing beauty of Christ. It’s really hard to stay committed in your marriage when you don’t look at the perfect Bridegroom. It’s almost impossible to stay morally clean unless your eyes are fixed on the perfect Savior.
Charles Spurgeon gave this warning —
Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of Christ upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should fix your eye steadily upon the Cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things which takes away the soul from Christ.
I love the chorus of the old hymn:Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace
Keep your eye on your Savior!
Okay, I’m not that dense (or maybe you should check with Betsy on that), but sometimes I do need some help. Especially in the area of setting and accomplishing goals.
So Betsy and I are working on something new. We picked four goals to accomplish in the next four weeks (4 goals x 4 weeks = 4×4).
We took one verse of Scripture about the life of Jesus as our guide: And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). This one verse shows the balanced way in which Jesus grew, so we have set our four goals in these areas:
Even though we’re only four days into our first week, having this 4×4 is really keeping me motivated and on task. I’ll give you an update when we’ve finished our four weeks.
Another thought that’s keeping me focused during this is what’s happening in me during the process of pursuing these 4×4 goals. Zig Ziglar said it this way, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Do you have any big goals you’re working on? What do you do to keep yourself motivated and focused on your goals?
I’ll bet many of you have your “To Do” lists ready to go this week. I’ve got my list ready. But even as I was working on my list last night I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to get everything done that I’m hoping to get done. Do you ever feel like that?
So how do you respond? Just doggedly press through no matter what? Let off the gas a little because you know it’s not all going to get done anyhow? Or just scrap the list and fly by the seat of your pants?
Here are 4 things I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) that might help you:
I’m still learning this stuff. If you have some tips or strategies that work for you, I’d love to hear them. Please share in the comment section.