How to overcome distractions in Prayer?
Prayer is the underlying power to effectively wield any weapon of the whole armour of God (Eph 6:13-18). Therefore the devil does all that’s possible to weaken our knees or divert our mind. Here’s how you can defeat his mind-oriented strategy.
Apart from maintaining a spirit of prayer “always” and “without ceasing,” choose that hour for prayer when you are really fresh. Prayer involves mind, spirit, soul and all. Jesus often chose the early hours of the day for His secret communion with the Father (Mk 1:35). Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), the pioneer missionary to China, spent several hours in private devotion each morning before the sun rose. When we are physically and mentally exhausted, concentration in prayer is rather difficult.
Prayer means going to the Throne of Grace. We have access to the same by the blood of Christ. A conscious acknowledgement of the power and the merits of the Blood gives us a strong footing against the enemy. Satan trembles when we appropriate the blessings of Christ’s blood and make positive confessions (Heb 4:14-16; Rev 12:11).
Our prayers must be wrapped up in praise and thanksgiving. God inhabits the praises of His people (Psa 22:3). When the presence of God becomes more and more real, we get absorbed in the spirit of prayer, and distraction is overcome (Phil 4:6). I have found switching over to praying or praising in tongues with the Spirit’s enablement quite helpful, because I thus byepass the mind (1 Cor 14:14).
When there is no focus in prayer, your mind will begin to wander. Be definite and specific about your requests. Keeping a prayer list and praying over the items one by one is effective.
There is no command in the Bible to close our eyes in prayer! Dr. Oswald J. Smith (1889-1986), a great missionary statesman of Canada, used to walk up and down in his prayer closet with his eyes open and praying aloud. He testified that he had walked several miles inside his prayer room! As far as possible one must choose a place where there is least disturbance and noise from the outside world. Jesus has taught us to shut the door of our room before we begin to pray! (Mt 6:6). If you cannot afford to have a room in your house for prayer, choose a corner! In any case, don’t forget to disengage the telephone and switch off your mobile!
Prayer is a conversation. I have found praying with an open Bible extremely helpful. Reading and praying and reading and praying… (Dan 9:1-3).
In spite of following all these guidelines, you still may have the problem of distraction in prayer. Yes, prayer is a battle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers of the demonic kingdom. The moment you get a distracting thought, arrest it at once. Give no time to meditate it. Keep resisting the devil and he will flee from you (Js 4:7). In-the-Name-of-Jesus is not a phrase to begin or end a prayer. It is our very authority and foundation for prayer (Jn 14:13). Pray with this consciousness throughout.
While Christ is up there in Heaven by the right hand of the Father to pray for us, we have the Holy Spirit within us helping us and interceding for us (Rom 8:26,34). We are to be sincere and persistent and God will take care of the rest. Pray when you feel like praying; pray when you don’t feel like praying; pray until you feel like praying!