• Kara Abernathy

Prayer Guide to Eliminate Distractions

Why Prayer is Difficult

Can I just be honest for a second? People overcomplicate prayer!

Prayer becomes difficult when we think it has to consist of sophisticated terminology instead of telling God our in-the-moment thoughts, concerns, and excitements. Think about when you talk to your best friend. Does everything sound put together? Or, do the barriers come down and the truth spill out? That’s how it should sound when we are talking to the Lord.

Sometimes the words don’t come out smoothly. Sometimes we don’t even know what to say, and there are long pauses as we form our thoughts (that God already knows, by the way!).

Yes, reverence is important, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m minimizing the fact that we can have open communication with a Holy God. However, when reverence turns to avoidance because we are so nervous to say the right thing that we avoid praying altogether, that is only hindering our faith.

Why Prayer is Disheartening

In a previous post, I’ve already touched on why people can get discouraged when it feels like God isn’t answering our prayers. We are left wondering why, and it’s disheartening to have more lingering questions than resolved answers. However, prayer is a practice that slowly develops our trust in the Lord over time as we continually lift up requests and seek His guidance. Read the “5 Reasons for Unanswered Prayers” to learn more about how God uses unanswered prayers in our life to prompt humility, protection, and gratitude.

Still, prayer is disheartening when God seems silent, and our situation doesn’t change. We might still struggle with the same prayer request that we did a year ago or the year before that. Even if our earthly circumstances aren’t changing, God is moving. I remember feeling like I was praying the same exact thing during my years of waiting on the Lord to provide a spouse, and now looking back as a married woman, I can appreciate what He was doing in His timing. To better understand that example, check out my three-year story or my letter to my former single self.

Even now, prayer can still feel like it isn’t “working” when my situation isn’t changing. That’s not the point of prayer. We aren’t praying to a genie who is granting wishes; we are praying to the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe who holds all in His hand. Through prayer, He’s going to do better than grant your wishes. Instead, He’s going to direct you to His path, again and again, which is exceedingly better than your original wish anyway.

Why Prayer is Distracting

Even if you aren’t scared of the concept of praying and you aren’t in the middle of a season that feels stuck, you might struggle with getting distracted while praying. Have you ever started trying to pray and can’t turn your brain off to focus? Maybe your grocery list is scrolling in your mind. Perhaps you’re thinking about what you need to get done tomorrow, or when you need to move on to the next task.

I have started multiple prayers then wandered to random thoughts that make me forget I was praying in the first place. Can you relate? Do you start talking with God and completely forget that’s what you were intending to do?

Yikes! Considering He’s the King of Kings, He deserves a bit more of our attention than that!

It’s kind of like when I was dating my spouse. Conversation was such a priority because we were getting to know one another. As time goes on in marriage, I have to remember that even though we know each other really well, conversation is still essential to the strength and sustainability of our marriage. We have to prioritize conversation to keep our relationship healthy with any loved one, and it’s no different with our relationship with God.

Therefore, I’m going to share my top methods that I have found actually work for eliminating that mind-wandering, what am I doing tomorrow, kind of attitude during prayer.

Eliminate Distractions with Prayer Guides

Distractions are worse when I simply close my eyes and pray silently. My mind wanders quicker when I’m saying the prayer in my brain. It’s better when I actually speak out loud because at least then I’m hearing the words as I say them and it keeps me more on track. I know it sounds awkward right? Pray out loud even when you are praying alone to God. Still, it works! If we are speaking out loud, we don’t just trail off because we are actually voicing our words.

Pray in the car. My drive to work each day is 15-20 minutes. I know the distance to the grocery store or Target. It takes me 7 minutes to get to Costco. All of these drives seem quick, but adding up all the time I’m spending in the car makes me realize I could use that time more effectively. Spending intentional time during driving helps turn the drives into something helpful. I usually spend one of my drives praying, one of them listening to a podcast, and one of them listening to music. Driving is a perfect time to process our thoughts and petition the Lord. Praying while driving keeps me focused simply because I have my eyes on the road and speak out loud like I’m talking to a friend. Bonus: it makes prayer far less intimidating.

Write down your prayers. Sure, you can write them on a scratch piece of paper or on the notes app on your phone, but don’t you think that will cause your mind to wander to what else you need to write down or what other notifications are on your phone?

Writing down your prayers is easier when you have a guide. I’ve tried different prayer journals or even turned regular journals into my own version of a prayer journal. In this process, I’ve found two strategies that work: a monthly prayer guide and a daily update prayer guide. Sound like gibberish right now?

That’s why the two remaining helpful tips I’ve found to eliminate distractions during prayer are found in my resources + freebies page! I’ve created templates that I’ve found beneficial in my prayer life. As a person who feels like she needs to constantly stay busy, stopping to say a simple prayer is a practice in patience for my distracted mind.

These templates are completely free, so if you’ve made it this far in the post, you should definitely check them out. I want them to be resources that help you concentrate when speaking to the Lord because if you’re like me, you need a plan in place to make it less intimidating and more relationship building. Head to the resources + freebies page to grab your templates!

I’ll go ahead and outline the point of them!

The Monthly Prayer Guide works to jot down 1-2 requests per day.

Do all your prayers sound the same? Sometimes I feel like I’m just repeating similar ideas each day as I try to remember prayer requests from others. For example, at my weekly community group from church, I’ll say, oh I’ll pray over that, but then the request slips my mind throughout the week.

In order to pray with intention, I focus on one or two requests a day. Writing down one or two requests helps me concentrate on praying for others’ needs. I don’t just stick to my own worries; I focus on praying for others, too. This monthly prayer plan allows me to sort out various requests in order to make sure I’m lifting up my loved ones to the Lord.

I made my first monthly prayer guide in college when I was trying to focus on praying less about me and more about others. I’ve copied my design on a printable PDF version for you to use. Let me know if you find it effective!

The Daily Update Prayer Guide works to blend what is happening in your daily life with Scripture and prayer.

This is a system I started a few months ago when I needed to make a change. I was noticing that my daily worries just distracted me from prayer altogether. I started thinking about all of my tasks or concerns, and I’d lose my train of thought in my prayer.

I have a prayer journal where I jot down what’s going on in my life on the left-hand side to get it on paper and out of my brain. Simply writing it down helps me focus because I have my thoughts on the page, and I know I can reference back to them. After reading my Bible, I think about a verse or two that speaks to my current situation. It’s often no accident that what I’m reading in the Bible goes with something I’m going through. Even if there isn’t a direct correlation, there is usually something that is encouraging or convicting that I want to remember. I write down the verse on the right-hand side of the page.

Finally, I write out a short prayer, often guided by my current happenings and verse. I reflect on my quiet time by thanking the Lord for teaching me something, asking the Lord for a request, and praying over my thoughts. Writing down my prayer helps me stay on track because it’s harder to lose my train of thought when I’m writing down the words as I speak them. Grab your free template to get started with this structure!

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© 2019 Kara Abernathy

Disclaimer: my thoughts do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of my employer.