Praying Our Inattention
Family responsibilities. Work deadlines. Education goals. Home maintenance. So much is clamoring for our attention each day. And that’s not to mention the distractions that come from the media. Most of us can’t step immediately from the noisy high-stimulus world into the quiet concentration of prayer.
GROUP DISCUSSION. What thoughts and concerns most often distract when you begin to pray?
PERSONAL REFLECTION. Attempt to clear your mind before you begin to study. Sit in silence for a few moments. What thoughts and concerns come to mind? List them. Ask God to help you to focus on what he wants you to learn.
Psalm 1 is not prayer, exactly, but the preface to prayer. We do not begin to pray by praying but by coming to attention. Psalm 1 is the biblical preparation for a life of prayer. Step by step it detaches us from activities and words that distract us from God so that we can be attentive before him. Psalm 1 provides a kind of entryway into the place of prayer. Read Psalm 1.
1. What contrasts do you notice in the psalm?
2. The first word in the psalm is blessed. (Some translate it happy.) What kind of expectations should that bring to our life of prayer?
3. What significance do you see in the progression from walk to stand to sit (v. 1)?
4. “The law of the LORD” is contrasted with the words counsel, way and seat. What does this contrast bring out?
5. The psalmist describes the person who delights in God’s law (v. 2). What is your emotional response to Scripture—not what you believe about it but how you feel about it?
6. Tree is the central metaphor of the psalm (v. 3). Put your imagination to use. How are law-delighting people like trees?
7. In what ways are the wicked like chaff (vv. 4-6)?
8. How do these two radically different portraits (the tree-righteous and the chaff-wicked) motivate you to delight in God’s Word?
9. Do you feel a gap (or chasm!) between “real life” (work, school, family) and your prayer life? Explain.
10. How does meditation—listening to God speak to us through Scripture—prepare us for prayer?