When my husband is telling a story or relaying some information at the family meal table, he quite often gets disrupted.
In the middle of talking, suddenly one of our children or myself gets distracted and a different conversation starts up. My poor husband gets so frustrated. He’s cut short, and often has not got to the point of his story or message.
We always end up laughing about our limited attention spans, which we are told is typical nowadays.
You no doubt have heard that we have an attention span of eight seconds, less than a goldfish. Although, I read this is a myth. Whether it’s true or not, in our digital age with so much information thrown at us, we do struggle to stay focused.
This spills over into many other activities, including prayer. It’s hard to concentrate when we pray. I’m sure, like me, you begin to pray and find your mind wandering to what you need to get done, a conversation with a friend, or something troubling you. So, what are we to do?
Staying Focused in Prayer
My suggestion is to be mindful if we can take a current day phrase, and in this mini-series, Staying Focused in Prayer, I will explain why this brings radical change in our lives.
Step One is Identifying What’s Distracting You. Consider where your minds wanders. In other words, be mindful of what you start to think about.
Let me give you an example. Some time ago, I was praying for my cousin. Each day of the month, I pray for a particular family member. On this particular day, it was my cousin.
As I began to think about him and ask God to meet his needs, my thoughts quickly strayed to thinking about my sister.
After reprimanding myself, I brought my thoughts back to my cousin and began to pray for him a second time. Yet again, I sidetracked to the conversation I’d had with my sister on the phone the previous day. She’d taken the train to London, met up with our aunt and uncle – my cousin’s parents. They had lunch together and went to a concert in the afternoon.
I didn’t think much more about the conversation when the call had ended. But, now it was coming up in my prayer time. And, it was stopping me from praying.
Here’s my suggestion. Instead of being hard on ourselves when we can’t focus on prayer, perhaps we should take notice of where our thoughts wander. It’s possible something else is going on that we need to consider and focus on. Maybe those thoughts are the very ones we should turn into prayers — the ones we should bring to God.
Step 1: This week when you pray, take notice if your mind wanders. Write down what you think about.
- Have a pen and paper with you when you pray.
- What’s distracting you? Is one thing you’re praying about triggering you to think about something else?
- Make a note of your thoughts.
When I took notice of my thoughts, I discovered something surprising. I’ll reveal that to you in Step 2: Bringing Your Distraction to God.