Regarding prayer Brother Lawrence wrote to another, “You are telling me nothing new, and you are not the only one who experiences distractions. The mind is extremely flighty. . . .”
We’ve all been there, right? When we begin to pray, suddenly our minds are wandering to our to-do list, or planning our next meal, or figuring out how to pay a bill, or being interrupted by a text. Anything except quieting ourselves before God and praying. Just beginning to pray seems to be a challenge.
Brother Lawrence is so practical. He offers some tips about the all-too-human dilemma of wandering thoughts during prayer.
1. His advice: “I think the answer to our problems is to confess our faults and to humble ourselves before God.”
Just tell God straight-out: “I love you, Lord, but my mind is wandering.” Being honest in prayer is not always easy. But God already knows. And he receives the prayer that is real and genuine.
2. His advice: “I advise you against long discourses during mental prayer, for they often foster distractions.”
Simple point: pray shorter prayers. Remember, Brother Lawrence’s method of prayer is short and frequent.
A few examples from the Bible: “Lord, help me!” (Matthew 15:25). “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). “Now show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). “Now strengthen my hands” (Nehemiah 6:9).
3. His advice: “Remain before God like a poor, mute paralytic [or a needy servant] at the door of a rich man. Strive to be attentive to God’s presence.”
Especially when I was a brand new Christian, I struggled to concentrate on God while praying. It took discipline to pull in the reigns of my wandering mind. I began learning to focus my mind on God, his Word, his presence.
4. His advice: “If your mind wanders or withdraws occasionally, don’t get upset. Since these disturbances tend to distract the mind rather than focus it, we must use the will to gently collect our thoughts.”
Don’t let a wandering mind upset you, which can further distract you. Don’t punish yourself. Just let your heart and mind return again to God. Bring yourself back to God. God doesn’t expect perfection in prayer. He desires relationship.
5. His advice: “An easy way to keep the mind from wandering during the time of mental prayer is to keep it as still as possible – not to let it take flight – during the day.”
Staying attentive to God throughout the day makes all prayer easier.
Action Step: Pick one of these tips to use when your mind wanders in prayer.
This is God’s Word for you today,