5 Practical Ways to Stay Focused in Prayer
If you feel like your prayer life has fallen flat, or if prayer just seems hard lately, here are a few practical ways you can elevate your prayer life and actually feel and see the transformative work of God in your life.
Our world is full of distractions. Even when I’m face to face with my husband having a conversation, sometimes I pick up my phone while he’s talking or my mind starts to wander and all of the sudden I find myself looking up at him saying, “Wait, what did you say?”
If you’re anything like me, you’ve done this before and when you have to admit you were too distracted to be listening, it’s super awkward.
You feel guilty about it, because you really do care, but you just have too much going on to pay attention.
When we pray, we are often faced with the same distractions and I think it can be even more challenging to pay attention and listen because we don’t get to be face to face with God or make eye contact.
So how can we be alert in prayer? (Ephesians 6:18)
Turn Off your Phone
This has changed my work life and my prayer life. You don’t have to be available for everyone all the time. Sometimes, it’s actually better not to be. Maybe it’s your email, maybe it’s instagram but whatever it is that distracts you the most, if your phone is actually completely off and unavailable to you, your attention will shift to what you should be doing—praying. The only thing that should interrupt you is the Spirit.
Set a Timer
Sometimes, starting is the hardest part. For me, setting a timer has become super helpful. Five minutes actually might feel like a really long time when it’s a focused, dedicated five minutes. So set a timer for five minutes and commit to spending those five minutes in prayer. There’s something really effective about committing to an amount of time and sticking with it.
Pray Out Loud
My mind is full almost all the time. If you ask me what I’m thinking about, I’ll list ten unrelated things. But, if you are saying something out loud, it’s difficult (maybe even impossible) to be thinking about something different. So even if it might feel silly at first, talking to God out loud can help your distracted mind focus on what you are saying and praying.
Write it Out
If praying out loud feels too weird for you, or if it isn’t possible (maybe you’re praying in a public place or you have a roommate) try writing out your prayers. This is something I’ve done for a long time and not only is it effective in helping me focus, but it is so fun to see the history of my prayer life over the years. You’ll create a library for yourself of fulfilled promises and dreams as you pray and document your prayers.
This is another business/productivity idea that can be applied to our spiritual lives. Habit stacking is the idea that when you want to start one habit, it’s easier to start if you pair it with another existing habit. One example is if you brew a pot of coffee every morning, you could decide while you wait for the coffee to brew, you will pray for your coworkers to come to know Christ. It’s effective because if you’re a committed coffee drinker, you won’t forget to make your coffee. So, soon you’ll start to smell the coffee and your brain will immediately jump into prayer because that’s its cue.
Have you tried any of these practical steps in your prayer life? Which one are you going to try next?