I have been focusing on hinderances to prayer and today I include another question I was asked: Why do I struggle so much to stay focused when I pray? Let’s face it! Many of us struggle to stay focused when we pray. Our culture is busy and there are so many things vying for our attention. What are some ways to combat the wandering mind when we want to focus our attention on God in prayer?
Choose times for focused prayer when you are most mentally alert.
If mornings are your best time of day, get up a bit early to meet with God. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, your Bible and a blanket if needed. We are to pray without ceasing, so it is helpful to at least once each day, spend concentrated time in prayer.
Keep paper and a pen nearby so that if distracting thoughts come, you can quickly write them down so you won’t forget and then go back into prayer.
Engage your senses and creativity. We have all been uniquely created by God, and He is a creative Father. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself in prayer through the use of your senses. For example, try drawing or painting your prayers to the Lord, to sing your prayers, or to use different body postures (try kneeling, lifting your hands, lying prostrate on the floor, bowing before Him, etc.).
Prayer walk your home, neighborhood, city, etc. Prayer walking is simply
praying while you walk. Pray about what and who you see. For example, if you are walking through your neighborhood, you might pray for each family as you pass their homes, whether you know them or not. Notice things like swing sets and pray for the children in the home, or for sale signs which can lead you to pray for a safe transition for those moving out, and for the neighborhood to be welcoming to the new family moving in…there are endless possibilities!
Pray out loud. It is more difficult to allow your mind to wander if you are
praying out loud.
Learn how to pray continually throughout the day. If your mind does tend
to wander, you can train yourself to be continually aware of the presence of God as you go about your day. Scripture does tell us to pray without ceasing. One way to do this is to cultivate thankfulness! Each moment you are aware of something you are thankful for, tell God about it! Even if it is just thanking Him that you were able to get up this morning! Begin to notice things around you that God is using to bless you, show His love for you, care for you and your family, etc.
Finally, isn’t it interesting, and maybe a bit sad, that we struggle so much in prayer, and yet never come to the Lord and ask Him to help us to pray. Do we really believe that we are so spiritual that we can handle this on our own? If we know that God wants us to be a people of prayer, and that is certainly clear in Scriptures, then when we ask believing God to make us a person of prayer, we can expect great results. I pray every day that God would make me a man of prayer. In His way, and in His timing, He will always answer that prayer.