Sometimes we have a hard time seeing things directly in front of us. Take my phone, for instance. I put it down and then I’m frantic because I can’t remember where I’ve placed it. Quite often it’s right there where I can see it. Thank goodness for “Hey Google, find my phone.”
One time when asking Google Home to find my phone, I could hear it ringing behind me. I turned around and walked into the next room only to hear it ringing behind me again. Totally confused, I walked out of that room and, guess what? The ringing came from behind me once more. Yup, my phone was in my back pocket!
Anyway, back to prayer. Sometimes we need to pray about what’s right in front of us, but we can’t see it. So, how do we discover what it is that we should pray about?
When our Minds Wander in Prayer
First, we need to consider that when our minds wander in prayer, these distractions may be the very things we need to bring to God in prayer.
In Step 1 of Staying Focused on Prayer, I explained about the time I was praying for my cousin, but I kept getting distracted. Every time I prayed for him my mind wandered to my sister and aunt. But, why? Was it simply that my aunt was the mother of my cousin and my sister had spent a day out with her? Or was something else going on that I couldn’t see?
On these occasions, asking Google home is of no to help us. However, we can call on God for help. We have the Holy Spirit within us, and He participates in our prayers, so it’s worth asking Him for guidance.
As I asked God, through His Holy Spirit, to guide me in understanding why my thoughts kept wandering to my sister and aunt, I discovered something surprising.
I wasn’t just relating the outing of my sister with my aunt, I was letting some unhealthy feelings rise to the surface. I suddenly realized I was envious of the relationship my sister had with my aunt.
In a way, it was understandable and to be expected. We’d lost our mom not many months before. I missed her terribly. My sister did, too. I lived 3,000 miles away from my family. So, it’s natural that I wanted what my sister and aunt had — a stronger relationship.
The problem with feelings like jealousy, though, is that we are tempted to act on our unhealthy emotions and they become unhealthy behaviors. And I discovered, festering in the back of my mind was a plan to do one better than my sister. “Next time I’m in London,” I thought, “I’m going to have a day out with my aunt and I’m not going to include my sister.”
I am convinced I would not have discovered this behavior on my own. Only through prayer and prompting by the Holy Spirit did I realize what was going on in my mind and heart.
This doesn’t indicate all our distracting thoughts mean we are about to do something wrong. But, most likely our thoughts are ones that we need God to redeem because our thoughts naturally wander to our anxieties and worries — areas in our lives where God wants to work so we become more Christ-like.
This week when you pray:
- Look back at the list you made in Step 1 — the things that distract you when you pray.
- Now bring those distractions to God in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what is making you anxious or worried.
- Write down what you discover.
God doesn’t want us to stay stuck in our distractions, He wants to free us from them.
Come back next week to learn what I discovered when I listened for God and Step 3 How to let God work through the distraction.