Distractions During Prayer

It was a Sunday evening after life group, and I was trying to pray.  The last week at work was rough, and I was asking Jesus to orchestrate an easier week for me and everyone else at work. 

As I was praying, I suddenly found myself thinking about how I wanted to buy a couple extra cans of black beans so that I had some on hand.

What??  I had no idea how my train of thought derailed so far.  It was as if the new thought had simply been placed there in order to interrupt my conversation with the Father.

We all struggle at times with being distracted while we’re praying.  Right now I’m going to offer a few tips on how to deal with those distractions.

Remove distractions before you start.  Turn off the TV or radio.  Silence or turn off your cell phone.  Go to a room where you can be alone and has the least amount of distracting items.  A sink full of dirty dishes or an XBOX staring you in the face may not help you keep your mind on prayer.

·         Visualization.  Imagine yourself in a quiet place with Jesus.  Picture sitting next to Him in a colorful garden or a majestic church, whatever works best.  Talk like you’re actually speaking to Jesus, because you are!

·         Pray!  When you’re beginning to pray, ask God to help you manage your distractions.  As you’re praying, if something seems to be continually distracting you, pause and ask God if there is something you’re missing.  Maybe that distraction is something He is bringing to mind, such as a good friend or an unresolved situation that He wants you to pray about.  If you determine that it is merely a distraction and not something that needs prayer, ask God to remove the distraction so that you can continue.

·         Journal.  Because I naturally enjoy writing, whether at a keyboard or with a pen and paper, I find journaling useful when I pray.  When I’m writing things down, usually like a letter to God, it’s quite a bit harder to get distracted because my words are no longer just floating around in my head but I’m seeing them on the paper.  If I get distracted, I usually notice it right away and can immediately rein it back in.  Even if you don’t generally write, you might give it a try while you’re praying.  Maybe you’ll be surprised.

·         Take notes.  Another good reason to keep pen and paper nearby when you’re praying is to write down those distractions.  The other night when I was distracted by canned beans, I picked up my notebook and quickly wrote a note about getting extra canned beans, and I also wrote a reminder to use the moment to illustrate this blog post!  Taking a few seconds to write it down allowed me to put it out of my mind and continue praying.  If I hadn’t written it down, it would have further distracted me because I didn’t want to forget it.

·         Keep going.  When you find yourself distracted, write it down if necessary, and get on with your prayer.  This is the most important part of dealing with distractions.  Go back to the last place you remember in your prayer, and start there.  As many times as you get distracted, go back to where you remember and keep praying until you’re done.  Don’t let distractions keep you from finishing.

Prayer is one of the most important parts of the Christian life, and it needs to be guarded.  Take care that you are aware of the things that distract you and have a plan to deal with those distractions.

What things distract you when you’re praying?  What do you do to avoid these distractions or get back on track when you do get distracted?

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2 Responses to Distractions During Prayer

  1. What if, in a way you cannot fathom, God wanted you to buy two cans of black beans because, in the grand scheme of the week, those two cans would make your week easier? :-) One time when I was trying to pray, my mind ran off on a tangent about mummies, and finally, I stopped myself and wondered why. I traced my thoughts back to the original, which was: as I prayed, I suddenly thought about Lazarus bound up in graveclothes. This image, of course, made me go off on the mummy tangent. But I believe the Lord was trying to show me that I was like Lazarus at that mind, all tied up, and He wanted to free me. And when one considers what my mind did with that revelation, indeed, my thinking was all tied up!

    1. That makes a lot of sense. It could be worth it to try to sort out in your mind just how you got to your tangent in order to not miss something God was trying to show you!


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