How prepared do you feel when you sit down to pray? Are you ready to have focused time with God or just rushing through a few prayer requests that are top-of-mind?
Some days we’re going to have those quick, rushed prayers, but God wants more. He wants us to enter into prayer with open hearts, ready to go deep with him.
Learn how to prepare your heart for prayer in this introduction to prayer. This devotional on Psalms 1 and 2 will help you bring more focus and depth to your prayers.
Why Is It Important to Prepare Your Heart for Prayer?
I sat down for prayer, yet my mind couldn’t focus. I had a million things going on and my mind was racing through them. I’d look up and see something that needed attention. I’d close my eyes and an image of my next to-do would flash through my mind. So, I prayed a few requests and called it a day. Important prayers, yet small ones.
I knew I hadn’t made the most of this prayer time. I was rushed, unprepared, unfocused. My prayers felt inadequate. I knew prayer could be so much more than this, but my heart and my mind weren’t in the right place.
Have you been there too?
Sometimes you just aren’t ready for prayer. Maybe you’re distracted and busy. Or, maybe your heart’s not quite in the right place for prayer. Whatever the reason, sometimes you need to step back and prepare your heart for prayer.
How to Prepare Your Heart For Prayer
It’s hard to make time for anything in your busy life, even prayer. Sometimes you may only have a few minutes. But how can you make the most of that time with God? How can you prepare your heart before you launch into prayer? How can you set your heart and mind into the way of prayer?
Praying through scripture – the Psalms in particular – is my favorite way to reset and refocus. Immerse yourself in God’s word and set your heart and mind on him.
An Introduction to Prayer in Psalms 1 & 2
While you can use any scripture to ready your heart for prayer, the Bible gives us two Psalms perfectly suited for this purpose. Psalms 1 and 2 are an introduction to prayer, a call to attention to prepare ourselves to enter into a time of prayer. Diving deep into these two Psalms will ready your heart for prayer and set your mind on God’s goodness.
“Psalm 1 is quiet, gathering our distracted lives into an act of supreme attention. Psalm 2 is vigorous, countering the bullying world that intimidates us into hiding. By means of Psalm 1 we become a tree, putting down roots into the soil and streams of Torah, collected and recollected before God’s word. By means of Psalm 2 we observe Messiah, God personally involved in the world, often incognito, but here, and ruling. Psalm 1 concentrates our energies into listening attention. Psalm 2 expands our vision to take in the messianic revelation. At attention and in adoration, we are ready to pray.” ~Eugene Peterson, in Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer
Psalm 1 uses the imagery of a tree.
We are reminded we need to be rooted in God’s nourishing word so we’ll flourish and yield fruit. In order to receive God’s nourishment, we are to make God’s word an essential part of our lives, meditating on scripture and being guided by his words.
Psalm 2 uses the imagery of the Messiah.
While initially written about King David, look at how it also describes Jesus, the complete Messiah, God among us. This Psalm focuses on the world around us, reminding us how God is at work in this world.
These Psalms work together to remind of the God within ourselves and the God outside in the world.
God is not a silent observer, but active in our hearts and active in our world. He calls us to place our trust in him as our leader through this life, saying blessed are those who walk in his path and take refuge in him. Together these Psalms set our eyes to see God at work around us – leading us in our own lives and active in the world at large.
Take time to prepare your heart and get focused on the God who wants to lead your life.
Use the devotional below to use Psalms 1 & 2 to prepare your heart for prayer. Spend time soaking in these scriptures to focus your heart and mind on God.
Psalm 1 Devotional
Psalm 1 (NIV)
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
“The Tree”: A Call to Attention and Obedience
Psalm 1 uses the imagery of a tree. We are reminded we need to be rooted in God’s nourishing word so we’ll flourish and yield fruit.
In order to receive God’s nourishment, we are to make God’s word an essential part of our lives, meditating on scripture and being guided by his words.
“The transplanted tree is the image that focuses our distracted will, the will that is ever restlessly looking for and trying out the “right” conditions for prayer. The tree claims our attention and says, ‘Put your roots down here.’” ~Eugene Peterson, in Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer
As you read and pray through Psalm 1, allow it to call your heart and mind to attention, to focus on the importance of God’s Word.
- How does the image of a tree planted by water speak to your heart?
- How do you need to more firmly root yourself near God’s nourishing waters?
- God is present within you, guiding your way and speaking into your heart.
- How can you be more obedient to walk in God’s way and let him guide your heart?
Blessed are those who are obedient and walk in the way of the Lord.
Psalm 2 Devotional
Psalm 2 (NIV)
1 Why do the nations conspire
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
4 The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
5 He rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain.”
7 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son;
today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
“The Messiah” – A Call to Adoration and Trust
Psalm 2 uses the imagery of the Messiah. While initially written about King David, look at how it also describes Jesus, the complete Messiah, God among us.
This Psalm focuses on the world around us, reminding us how God is at work in this world.
“God’s sovereignty begins on the inside, not the outside. Those who embrace this way discover in the life of prayer that follows that the ‘inside is bigger than the outside.’” ~Eugene Peterson, in Answering God: The Psalms As Tools For Prayer
Allow this Psalm to call you into adoration of God’s work in the world around you.
- How do you see God at work in the world?
- How is he working through ordinary people?
- Where do you need to focus more on God than yourself?
- How do you need to release control to God?
Remember that God is bigger than any earthly power. He strengthens you and protects you. He is at work in our world, actively ruling and working.
How can you do more with God, than without him?
Psalm 2 opens with: “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?”
The word used for “plot” (“hagah”) is the same word used in Psalm 1 for “meditate” in this verse: “but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night”
- What’s the difference when we focus our thoughts on God versus focusing our thoughts on ourselves?
- Where are you focusing your thoughts?
- Are you plotting and scheming with the ways of the world?
- Or, are you focusing on God and his power in your life?
Blessed are those who take refuge in the Lord.
How Will You Prepare Your Heart for Prayer?
These Psalms are a great way to refocus your heart and mind on God and prepare yourself to go deeper in your prayers.
Spend some time in these two Psalms and refocus your heart and mind for prayer.
Look for the God within and the God outside.
Plant your roots deeply in him and allow him to guide your life.
Submit to his rule and place your trust in him.