Effective Prayer Life

How to Declutter and Make Space for Prayer

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Making Space for Prayer and Relationship With Jesus

By: Lo Tanner
Contributing Writer
LoTanner.com

I have a question for you. It’s a tough question. It’s going to require some honesty and a whole lot of humility, but I guarantee you if you’re honest about answering, and sincere about seeking a resolve, the conversation that happens between you and God is going to be life changing. So grab a pen and piece of paper and get ready to write this down. Are you ready for it?

What things do you have on the throne in your life that do not belong?

Or maybe it would help to phrase it this way.

What do you need to dethrone in your life to make space for Jesus?

I’ve been asking myself these questions for a few weeks now, praying that God would show me where I’ve been compromising my walk with Him.

Let’s just say He didn’t hold back. God has been bringing things to mind that I wasn’t even aware of. Things I’ve prioritized that He is saying don’t belong; things I need to set down in order to make space for Him.

Misplacing Commitment

It’s interesting; ask a body of believers what the most important thing in life is and most all of them will say, Jesus.

Ask that same group of believers what the hardest part of living out their faith is and most will answer, making time for it. It’s almost as if we separate it, compartmentalize it. We put our faith in a box and hope we get to it after we’ve taken care of all our real wants and responsibilities.

Y’all I’m so guilty. I’ve been stuck in that bad habit more than a time or two. I’ve made Jesus an option when pursuing Him should have been a priority. I’ve contained Him to just one fragment of my life when really all of my life should be rooted in Him. God’s been shaking and shaping me just as much as He has others.

I’m realizing there’s a lot in my life, as far as how I spend my time, that I have not been intentional about. They seem like little things in the moment. I hadn’t trained my eyes to see how those small and seemingly unimportant choices affect the big picture of my life but they do. Those small moments add up.

And if we aren’t careful (like so many of us are discovering) we’ll misplace the commitment to live for Jesus with the option to do other things. And let’s just be real, even the good things we spend time on, become frivolous things if God isn’t at the center of them. It reminds me of Matthew 16:26 where Jesus said,

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?..”

We have to keep first things first. We have to make space for the things that matter most; and Jesus, our relationship with Him; matters most.

Getting Rid of the Clutter

If you can’t make the meeting because there’s too much going on, that tells me that we’re either doing something inefficiently or we need help. – Greg McKeown (Essentialism)

He was speaking in terms of business but I believe this applies to our relationships too, with people and with God. If we can’t make time for prayer because there’s too much going on, that tells me that we’re either doing something inefficiently or we need some help. In my situation, I was doing a lot of things inefficiently. I would say Jesus was my priority but then would choose to spend my time on other things.

Television over prayer with Jesus.

Books over prayer with Jesus.

Phone calls, car rides, naps, Pinterest, social media; I chose them over prayer with Jesus.

Articles and Bible study groups; all IN PLACE OF Jesus. Ouch. That hurts to admit. By weeding some of these things out I was able to create more opportunity for time with Jesus.

How to Know What Needs to go so that you can make time for prayer.

Maybe you’re like me, realizing you’ve spent too much of your time on frivolous stuff and you’re ready more disciplined with your time and relationship with Jesus.

Or maybe you don’t spend your time on frivolous things like tv and social media, but your life is so jam packed (maybe even with good things), you don’t have a lot of time to pursue God things. I’ve been there too.

In that case you’re probably wondering, how do you know what you need to let go of so that you can make space for prayer and relationship with Jesus in your life. We’re going to keep this simple by weighing our activities against three questions:

  1. Does this draw me closer to Jesus or distract me from Him?
  2. Is this fruitful in terms of honoring God with my time and possessions?
  3. Does this activity help me show the people God placed in my life that I value them?

Valuing What God Values

Sometimes its not so much a matter reordering our priorities but a matter of shifting our values. What I love about the checkpoints above is that each one reflects a trait or principle that God deeply values.

God tells us through the Bible to seek Him diligently (Deuteronomy 4:29 and Jeremiah 29;13) and that those seek Him will find Him, and those who find Him find life (Hebrews 11:6 and Proverbs 8:35). By asking, “does this draw me closer to Jesus?” we reinforce the value God puts on pursuing a relationship with Him.

In the New Testament Jesus shares parable after parable about how important stewarding our time, talents, relationships, and resources are. He desires that we steward well and produce “good fruit.” By asking, “is this fruitful?” we reinforce in our lives the value of stewarding all that God has entrusted us with.

Love God and love people. If there were ever a way to summarize the mandate God has put on our lives (Mathew 22:34-40) that would be it. By asking, “does this activity help me value the people God put in my life?” we reinforce the value God puts on loving the lost and edifying and equipping the found.

Now take your day and all that you cram into it and weigh it against these standards. Notice how much falls off of your to-do list? How many must-haves are no longer even wants? You’ve created space. Space in your day to commit to the things God calls you to; starting with prayer and relationship. Now treasure it. Protect it. Grow in it. And watch God draw you into incredible relationship as you commit to seeking Him.

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7 Comments

  1. This is so good! If we don’t declutter our lives and make time for prayer we can find ourselves focusing on the wrong things in our lives. This question really sums up how we can determine if we are using our time wisely: “Does this draw me closer to Jesus or distract me from Him?” Wow! It puts everything in perspective. Great post!!!

    1. Thanks Darnita!

      And yes, I found it so much easier to decide what stays and what goes by asking “does this draw me closer to Jesus?” vs. “Is this good or bad?” There are so many things out there that aren’t necessarily bad but don’t feed my relationship with Jesus either, ya know.

  2. It’s so true that we can fill our lives so full of doing good things that we do t have the time or make the time to spend with Jesus!

  3. I love the idea of decluttering and making space for prayers. It’s easy to squeeze it into our daily routine instead of making room to invite the Lord in. Thank you for this very helpful blog.

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