Have you ever been in a room that is filled with constant chatter and background noise that persistently disrupts your concentration? There have been times when I've been working at a coffee house on some homework, and then all of a sudden people show up from nowhere and the place gets loud. I begin to strain to keep my focus, but because of all the noise, the quality of my work begins to go out the window. The same is true with my prayer life; when I talk to God, it seems as if my mind begins to focus its attention on what work needs to be done, the day's happenings, or how much I want some chocolate cake.
When these thoughts come in my mind, I begin to try to forget about them and instead focus on God, but in the process I only think about them more. In situations like this, should we blame our brains for going crazy and then hopelessly continue on as if we can't fix it? No! We need to make a conscious effort to clear our minds and focus on God!
In Matthew 6:6, Jesus Himself tells us exactly what to do when we pray, "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you." The best way to clear our minds is to find a place of solitude where there is no background noise and where we are able to think straight!
But what if, even though you are all by yourself, things still jumble about in your mind? The great thing about praying when you are alone is that you can verbally voice your prayer to God! We don't need to whisper or keep our prayer in our minds! We can talk it out! This not only will help you focus more on your conversation with God, but it will also help you gather your thoughts in order to be more specific in your prayer!
Anger and controversy can also have an effect on our prayers! Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:8 that we need to fix the issues we have with those whom we are mad at and be free from anger and controversy. If we have anger or controversy on our minds, how can we focus on God? It's almost impossible!
Does this happen to you? Do you find yourself day dreaming or even sleeping when you're praying? If so, find a quiet place where you can be alone, drown out the thoughts in your mind by praying aloud, and free yourself from anger and controversy. If Jesus found time to pray by Himself, so can we (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12)! Continually and completely devote yourself to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Focus on God and you will find that your communication with Him will become more personal and your relationship with Him will grow (Colossians 4:2)!