5 Ways to Drive Off Distractions When You Pray

Try some of these tips to give your prayer time more energy and focus.

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Posted in , Jun 15, 2022

Praying past distrations

It happens to everyone. You start to pray. Things are going well—until your phone’s text alert chimes. Then you remember the prescription you have to pick up. Should I write myself a note? No, I’m praying. But if I write a note, I won’t have to keep thinking about it. Oh, phooey, I’ve already lost my train of thought. Forget the note, I might as well do another load of laundry. 

And so it goes.

Everyone struggles to stay focused in prayer. Even Jesus interrupted His crucial prayer time in Gethsemane to check on His disciples—twice! 

But there are ways to drive away distractions and achieve better focus in prayer. Here are five simple tips: 

1)  Silence your stuff. If you leave it to chance, your phone will surely ring or chime or beep during your prayers. Silence it. Put it on “focus” or “airplane mode.” Those notifications will still be there when you finish praying. 

2)  Pray aloud. If you’re in a private place (or even if you’re not) try praying aloud. It’s much easier to ward off distractions when your mouth, tongue and vocal chords are coordinating with your thoughts.

3)  Take a walk. Motion helps focus. Even if you merely pace back and forth from one end of the room to the other, moving while you pray can help focus your attention, especially if praying aloud as you walk around.

4)  Sing or chant. If you’ve never sung or chanted your prayers before, it can feel weird at first. But don’t take my word for it—the practice of monastic Christianity for millennia can testify to the helpfulness (and beauty, even) of sung or chanted prayers. Even the most monotone effort can serve to slow your racing mind and focus your wayward thoughts.

5)  Journal. Like chanting, writing out your prayers can often steer them into more focused territory. At the very least, you’ll have a marker to return to if your mind wanders.

You don’t have to try all five of these suggestions—unless you want to, of course. But give one or two a shot, and you may find your prayer time newly energized and focused. Lord, hear our prayer.

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