Have you ever had trouble staying focused while you pray? Attention deficit has been a long-standing challenge for me (Jeff) in a lot of areas, but prayer has always seemed like a particularly difficult time to stay on track. I sometimes wonder if our enemy watches for these times, when we are looking to spend undistracted time with our Heavenly Father, and he seems ready to assault us with a barrage of busy thoughts to take our mind in different directions.
I feel like Elijah, straining to hear the “still small voice” in the midst of earthquakes and storms and fires (1 Kings 19:11-13). I want to follow the command to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) and to meditate on God’s word day and night (Psalm 1:2).
One thing that has really been helping me lately is to direct my imagination to really picture things. Scenes from The Chosen, like Nicodemus on the rooftop with Jesus, really help me to picture Jesus actually sitting there listening to me and reminding me of what He has said to us in Scripture.
When we were praying in a team meeting recently, someone asked us to spend several minutes giving over to Jesus the things we were stressed holding onto. With effort, I imagined Jesus and I in a row boat on a lake, and I took precious things out of some bag (like dolls of my family, my body) and, reluctantly at first, put them in Jesus’ hands. Praying like this has helped me stay focused!