Today I sat down to pray. My prayer started off something like this, “Dear Lord, I thank you for the opportunity to come into you presence again today… Did I get that load of laundry started yet today? (No, no! Back to business!) As I was saying, I am in awe that You called me to Yourself and that I get to call you Father… I really need to get this floor vacuumed. (No, no!)
Does this ever happen to you or am I the only Christian who has a problem with my mind drifting during prayer? Why is it so hard to focus when we pray?
While I have not found any great way to quit daydreaming, there are a few ways I’ve found to focus my mind better during prayer. In fact the reason I’m writing this today is because I need to be reminded of them myself.
The first and most simple way is to vocalize your prayers. I’m not saying that you have to shout them from your roof top or even say them loud enough another person could hear you, but simply moving your lips can help keep your mind focused. Even the amount of energy you will spend putting your thoughts into words and sentences will often be enough to discipline your mind and keep it from drifting.
One of my favorite things to do is to pray over the Scriptures. That means that you are connecting your prayers to your Bible reading. There are a lot of great strategies out there like the One Year Bibles. Just find whatever works for you but always read it slowly and carefully. The truths you will encounter could very well be the basis of reflective praying. You can also do this with some of the better hymns. I have prayed over “It Is Well” thousands of times. (Please know that hymns are NOT a replacement for the Scriptures but can be helpful in prayer life).
Another variation of this is to look through the Scriptures to find verses that support your prayers then pray those Scriptures back to the Lord. When I was petitioning the Lord for my youngest son, I remember praying a prayer that went something like this, “Lord, we desperately want another child. Your Word tells us that Sara, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth, and several other women were barren. Yet, you opened their womb and gave them children.” Then I would read the Scriptures that told the story of each of these women and end with asking Him to add me to the list with these ladies.
Something else that may be helpful, and my husband uses regularly, is to develop a prayer list. It can be quite difficult and daunting to pray faithfully for a large number of people and concerns without some sort of prayer list. Our church puts out a prayer list weekly as many churches do. This can be a great beginning place but certainly you will want to add to it other people and concerns of our own acquaintance. This is sure to be updated weekly as your church’s prayer list is updated.
Another excellent discipline in praying is to enlist a prayer-partner. That is someone that you meet with regularly, say once a week, go over prayer concerns together and then pray together. This will most likely prove to be a very intimate time with you and the other person. And intimacy in one area can very easily lead to intimacy in another area. So always make sure that if your prayer-partner is not your spouse, that it is someone of the same sex.
I have been fortunate in the way that I have been able to be pray-partners with a couple different ladies in my life. The first was when I was a freshman in college. Another young lady, who was a senior, invited me to pray with her. This quickly became a weekly meeting and continued on through the rest of the semester. I learned much more from her discipleship than words can express. We still remain very close friends today.
Prayer can be hard and frustrating. Still, a wandering mind is no excuse to not do it. How are we to have a relationship with the Lord if we never communicate with Him? I do hope that I am the only Christian that has a problem with a drifting mind, but I really don’t believe that I am. I have practiced each of these methods at different times and they each been of great help. I do pray that they will be of some help to you too.