Post 109…Why does your mind wander when you pray

Thursday 11/17/2022

Well, it happened this morning so I thought I would write a little about this subject.  We live in a world that is so full of garbage and distractions that our mind (my mind for sure) just doesn’t always turn off.  I know I have good intentions that this won’t happen…but bingo…there goes my mind to a hundred other things.  My mind struggles with wandering thoughts, especially during my prayer time.  Because mine does…I’d venture to say other people’s minds do as well. Even hundreds of dumb thoughts will pop up…it is like having a roving brain when you go to pray. 

One of the things is when it begins to wander (your mind that is)…stop and put it back on God.  You went to meet Him…not what you have to do for the day, not what you are going to eat for the day…etc.  Just stop each time and take your mind back to prayer.  Now, during the day talk to God as many times as you want or feel the need to.  He is always there.  Do whatever you can during your day to bring God to mind. I do find that if I talk to God all the time during the day over everything when I go to pray I can stay focused longer.

Sometimes it is not that we can’t pray for a period…but…. we can even fall asleep, or even forget what or where we were in our prayer.  I’ll even bet that many would at this point feel down, discouraged, and maybe even ashamed that they can’t keep their minds focused even for prayer.  I know that it frustrates me.

Ok, I’ll admit that this morning this happened to me.  Since it happened to me, I think it happens to a lot of people every time they get in their prayer closet.  Let’s see, what am I going to do today?  What am I going to feed everyone today?  Do I need to get something from the store?  My hands are hurting more than usual.  Will so and so do such and such?  How can I help so and so?  Boy was that car that just went by noisy.  Why is that dog next door barking?  I guess I will clean out such and such today.  Oh, the bills are about due so I’ll get that organized.  I have to go to the bank.  Yep, our mind wanders and it sure feels like it never shuts up so that you can pray. 

I love God.  I love my time with Him.  Why can’t I just stay focused?  Why?  Why does this happen?  I need to focus on my time with God for, after all, He came to visit with me too.  I feel like I am cheating on a test or something. 

Prayer is very hard at times.  Not because we don’t want to pray or stay focused, and not because we don’t love God or want to be with Him, but because we are human and we deal with our limited brain that is difficult to turn off. Our minds are susceptible to input even when we try not to go there. My mind, and maybe yours as well yearns to pray properly…but our attention span is competing in some way for our mental energy. 


Okay, so what can we do to “help” make it better in our times of prayer?  Think about whom you are praying to.  Isn’t God more important than what you are going to fix to eat today?  God is the creator of the universe…can’t I give Him my first and best of the day?  (Don’t get upset here…okay?) Think about creation.  Can we even imagine how beautiful it was when God created it? 


Okay, there you go drifting off right?  Many times it is because we forget just who it is we are praying to.  God is love, truth, breath, joy, peace, and just.  God is amazing.  Is that breakfast amazing?  When we forget to acknowledge just who God is…our mind also wanders.  Well, let’s go get it back!!!


Do you realize that God created it all?  How about before you even begin to pray you think of what He did to give you life?  Chapter 1 of Genesis pretty much explains it all.   In the beginning…God created the heavens and the earth.  Wow! 

I do know that without God and all He has done for me I would not be here.  Before you begin thinking of what He created and then tell Him all the things you are thankful for.  Don’t just give God a give-me list.  Talk to God! Praise Him for who He is, what He has done, what He is going to do, and what you can do for Him to further the kingdom of God.   


So you are going through some things…maybe even difficult things…God knows that.  Yet, He always wants to hear from us and for us to share those things with Him.  Yes, of course, we take our prayers to Him.  All the things that are bothering us, our needs, our desires, our feelings, even our anger, and unforgiveness.  Take them to Him and ask Him to help you.  Confess if you have sinned, and repent/change your direction.  Know this…we can’t make people love us, forgive us, or even want us in their life, but we can pray for them, forgive them, and desire the best for them, and don’t say that I don’t know what so and so did to you.  You are right….I don’t, but I know a God who does and who wants to ease your pain.  We can’t be forgiven if we can’t forgive.  Forgiving someone for some hurt doesn’t mean you need to go hang out with them.  Forgiving releases, the power they have over you.  We mend what we can, of course, but when something can’t be mended just choose to forgive them and go on. 


Now, when and where to pray?  What time of the day do you have the least distractions?  What room can you use?  Maybe taking a walk with God out and about is good.  What about going out on a patio or something and taking your Bible, a notepad, and a cup of coffee or tea?  What about even when you are in the shower where you are alone for a bit?  God knows everything about you and why do some people think they have to be all dressed up to be able to pray?  Maybe put some quiet prayer music on, or for some, it might take some loud praise music.  For me, it is quiet praise music or otherwise, it will become a distraction as well.  That is up to you.


Do you realize that Jesus is our prayer example?  First, not only did He give us a sample prayer/Lord’s prayer…He didn’t say to just sit there and repeat it.  It has a different thing that you should take to your prayer closet.  Next, He would go away in private to be with God.  Yes, He is God…but even God wanted a quiet time with His Father in heaven. 


In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus enters into what was undoubtedly the hardest prayer because He was feeling anguished, alone, and human. He knew what was about to happen to Him and what pain He would be going through.  He was perfect and never sinned, yet He took on your sin, my sin, and all of humanity’s sins.  The pressure must have been excruciating yet He was still going to go through with it…for you and me. 


Mark 14:32-34 reads, “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’”

Maybe this should be the example when we go into prayer.


Have you ever thought, about how very essential your prayers are when you are battling life with all of its ups and downs?  Life is tough, to say the least.  Now think when you go to share something with someone…do you just tell them everything you feel, or do you hold back things because they might judge you, might not give a care about what you think or feel, and maybe you don’t know what they will do with the information you shared with them. I know many people who will never share their feelings with someone because that someone if they were to get angry or a rift came between you….what would that person do with what you shared with them? But………………………………. God is not a gossip.  God never lies, never cheats, is not corrupt, and you can tell Him anything and everything. 


Another thing to think about is that even if you feel distracted in your prayers, even though your mind wanders….keep bringing it back to God and do it as many times as necessary.  God is listening and nothing surprises Him.  We are human.  If you don’t know what to say do you think God has not heard that before?  Sometimes we just don’t know what to say.  In those times just ask God to give you His peace and sit there with Him.  Maybe, just maybe He has something to say to you. 


Lord, please calm my mind today as I go into prayer.  Let the distractions be far between, and bring my prayers back to you.  I need you Lord and I need this prayer time each day with you.  Give me your peace Lord and be with me this day and forevermore. 

Now, may the Lord bless you, keep you, provide for your needs, help keep you focused, and give you His peace.