You open your Bible, get your coffee and notebook, and sit down for your quiet time. You read the passage, take a few notes and start to pray. But after a few words, your mind begins to wander: What should I eat for breakfast?… When do I need to leave for work?… I need to return that book to Maddie….
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone! Focused prayer requires effort and diligence. It can be tough to stay attentive, especially if you do your devotions in the morning. If you need some motivation to keep your mind on track, here are five tips for staying attentive when you talk to God.
- Use a prayer structure (ACTS). Sometimes all we need to keep our minds on track is a little structure. With a plan to follow, prayer becomes much more focused and intentional. One such structure is ACTS: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. You begin prayer by adoring God: praising who He is and what He has done. Confession is just what it sounds like: confessing anything in your heart that may be impeding your relationship with the Lord. Thanksgiving means thanking God for all the blessings He has given you and WILL give you in the future, and supplication is another word for presenting your requests to God.
- Keep track of requests and God’s answers. The most powerful motivator for persevering in prayer is a consistent reminder of God’s faithfulness. In order to keep track of God’s answers in my own life, I use our family prayer board. I file our prayer requests under sections such as marriage, family, finances and needs. When the request is answered, I pin it to a section labeled “God’s Answers.” This is a visual reminder of how God has answered our supplications!
- Prayer walk or drive. One of my personal favorite times to pray is during a walk or while driving the car. It’s much easier to be transparent when you are completely alone. If you are someone who feels closer to God in nature, walking is a great way to commune with God in an environment that is peaceful and inspiring. You can also pray while driving by talking to God about anything that crosses your mind: any worries, appointments or concerns you might have that particular day.
- Change up how you pray. If you normally pray silently, pray out loud. If you usually pray in a chair, try praying on your knees. Changing up your posture or method can keep your attention throughout your prayer time. If you’re praying in a group, you can use the ACTS structure by going around the circle, each person offering a short prayer of adoration or praise, confessing either publicly or silently, and ending with thanksgiving and group prayer requests.
- Ask God for an attentive spirit. God is happy to answer an earnest desire to love Him. If you are struggling to stay attentive during prayer, ask God to give you a desire to talk to Him. Ask Him to reveal more of Himself to you and give you the words to pray. God understands the battle we face as humans—fighting our own desires and the distractions around us—and is merciful to those who call on Him for help.
What are your tips for paying attention during prayer? Share in the comments section!