I have to catch myself.

It’s so easy to pray and go!

It is much more difficult to pray and wait. But Scripture gives us a blessed encouragement for our prayer life.

In Colossians 4:2 NLT it says, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”

We are to be engaged. Prayer is not simply saying a few words but something we are to be devoted to.

Prayer is conversation with a holy God, coming to him in faith and believing that he is who he says he is.

We read in Hebrews 11:6, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

If I am going to have a sincere and open conversation with anyone close to me, a level of trust that they will sincerely listen must be present. I want my thoughts to have found a safe place to rest.

So, it is with coming to God in prayer. As we speak with him it should be with our heart’s devotion to him and wanting to know not only that he listens but really hears. It’s getting to know him. That can’t be rushed.

Secondly, we are to have an alert mind.

If we are alert, we are going to be actively aware of just how God may choose to encounter us in regard to what we have prayed.

For example, if we pray and go we are apt to miss that person he puts in our path as we hurry by. Or that song on the radio may filter in and out of our mind as we mindlessly sing the words. When, in reality, his answer was subtly spoken there.

Sometimes, when I read a Christian novel, I’m amazed by the words of wisdom that may speak to something I am wrestling with. When I’m alert to how God may speak, I don’t miss those nuances of thought he is presenting to me. So, pray with an alert mind tuned into his voice.

And, thirdly, we are to pray with a thankful heart.

This morning I heard a song in which the singer was crying out to God for help to breathe the next breath, to hold on another moment. The plea was for him now … right now!

Yet, in the plea was the acknowledgement of his faithfulness.

So, cry out … yes … while remembering to say thank you to the One who created you and sustains you. Selah

Jan Merop, a columnist with the Highlands News-Sun for 30 years, resided in Sebring for 28 years; now living in North Carolina. Visit her blog Journeying with Jan @ pauseandconsider.net.