I have the hardest time staying focused in prayer.
I know I’m not alone in this. My mind wanders; I get distracted. I start out with my thoughts and heart turned towards God, but somewhere along the way I wander off. Most of the time its stuff I have to do today, or people I’m worried about. I’m praying along and suddenly I realize that though I have kept saying words in prayer, my heart and mind are a million miles away. It’s embarrassing. Like inviting someone over to talk, sitting down in the living room together, and then suddenly you realize you’ve been staring at the TV and ignoring your company.
It’s also ineffective, in the sense that it really does derail prayer.
What to do?
Years ago I was sitting under a man’s teaching in my church. He was teaching about prayer. And of all the things he said, the one thing that’s helped me most was this one thought: When you realize you are distracted, don’t just plow ahead. Stop, go back, and pick up again with the prayer at the last point in which you were engaged. Sort of like wandering in the woods; don’t just keep going. Stop, back up, retrace your steps, go back and pick up the trail where you last left it, and then carry on.
I find I have to do this a lot, and I find it’s helped me a whole lot. It brings me back to God, centers me. It makes prayer far more meaningful, far more intentional. And therefore, far more effective. I meant to share this in the series I did awhile back on The Hope of Prayer, but I forgot. Or got distracted (!). And it’s been on my heart to offer it to you ever since. So there you go. Hope it’s helpful.