Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

It sounds so glorious and exciting to “come before the throne of grace”. And yet sometimes our prayers feel more like coming before a state of near-sleep with a confidence that my children will wake yet again before the day starts! Maybe you’re not in that same zombified state of young kids that has plagued me recently, but there are always things that pull our prayers inwards.

By this, I don’t mean our prayers completely disappear. It’s more that our prayers become something along the lines of “God please make this kid go to sleep”, or “Jesus, please help me to actually have a good day at work today”, or “God, can you please help me get this done on time?” etc. I know for me that somehow my private prayers have become almost entirely self-focused (or just about my immediate family).

While it’s good to bring everything to the Lord in prayer (Phil. 4:6), we are not meant to be the only subject of prayer. I was listening to an audiobook of C.H. Spurgeon recently (as I’d heard him described as the “Prince of Preachers”, so I figured he must be alright). He was discussing what the private prayer life of a preacher needs to be like, and his clearly urgent tone struck me. It was absolutely essential for preachers to be praying with heart and soul. Here’s an example he gave:

The famous Welch was also a great intercessor for his country [Scotland]; he used to say “he wondered how a Christian could lie in his bed all night and not rise to pray.” When his wife feared that he had taken cold, followed him into the room which he had withdrawn, she heard him pleading in broken sentences “Lord, wilt thou not grant me Scotland?” O that we were thus wrestling at midnight, crying, “Lord, wilt thou not grant us our hearers’ souls?”

C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students, “The Preacher’s private prayer”

Spurgeon is obviously talking about the prayer life of preachers here, but the passion you see is the same. I’ve got to confess that my heart wished with all I had that I could pray with even a fraction of the zeal displayed by Welch! I’d like to make it there someday, but here’s where I’ll start:

  1. Pray when I get up (despite the kids also being up).
  2. Have a prayer list for each day on my phone (otherwise my mind will wander, or only think of what I can pray for).
  3. Every time I go to scroll Facebook out of boredom, put my phone down and pray first.

Perhaps you’ve got some other suggestions or things that help you focus in prayer? Hopefully, this is a good start, anyhow!


Malcolm Purdey is a Christian, husband, father, student minister and science nerd. He completed a PhD in Chemistry and worked as a research scientist before making the jump into ministry in early 2017. He has been married for 5 years and has two daughters aged 3 and 1.

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