Overcoming Prayer ADHD

daydream

“I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me…” (Hab. 2:1, ESV).

The other day, I saw a Facebook post that made me smile. It went something along the lines of, “Does anyone else have prayer ADHD? I’m trying to talk to God, my mind wanders, and then I’m like, ‘I’m sorry God, where was I?’”

I am absolutely certain that every single one of us working on growing in spiritual disciplines has experienced this. It can be quite frustrating when our spirit is hungry for God, but our mind seems to have a mind of its own! Daddy God is exceedingly patient with our frailty as beings made from dust. However, if we yearn to hear from Him more regularly, training our mind to focus will be an essential component of our growth towards this goal.

Our verse today from Habakkuk reveals a vital key as we move forward in our listening journey. Here the prophet shares with us his approach to leaning in for God’s voice. We can gather from his description how important our spiritual posture is for maximizing our listening focus. “Stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower” depicts the attitude of a watchman. The person in this position is alert and on the lookout. He or she is scanning the horizon, watchful. All senses are sharpened in anticipation of some expected sign.

This is how we are to wait on the Lord. With anticipation. Alert. Focused. Leaning in. Eager and expectant. Our spirit says, “I will look out… to see what he will say to me.” Not, “Maybe He’ll feel like communicating with me today. Maybe not. We’ll see.” This kind of biblical posture is not wistful wishing. Rather, it’s full-on expectancy.

Every day of our lives, Daddy wants to impart something to our spirit. What delights His soul the most is to be with us, to commune with us. When we deeply internalize this truth, we will draw near to Him accordingly. The eager willingness of a beloved child who knows she is wanted and welcomed will mark our approach and our listening posture.

This, in turn, will enhance our focus and aid us in our efforts to grow in prayer and concentration. For this reason, Hebrews 11:6 expresses, “Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him” (NCV). Daddy wants to gift us with profound conviction of His longing to reward our seeking with more and more of Him.

As you press into His presence, I want to share with you two exercises that have aided me in the process of sharpening and training my listening focus:

  • Ten minutes of silence. You set a timer for the allotted time. Close your eyes. Work on focusing in on the truth that He is real, He is intimately close, and He loves to reward those who yearn to find Him. Ask Him for heightened awareness of His presence. Don’t spend the minutes going through requests or even saying much. Just focus on Him being there with you. On Him as a beautifully attentive Person, as an intimately present Friend. Enjoy Him. Drink Him in. (Sometimes when I do this, I curl up against a back support pillow on my bed, visualizing myself cuddling into His embrace.)
  • Worship song on repeat. Pick a worship song that Holy Spirit is currently using to speak to your heart. Maybe something from the service on Sunday that you really connected with. Or one that you “randomly” woke up hearing in your head (hint: it’s not actually random. It’s Holy Spirit). Put it on and settle into your listening posture. Intentionally push all the noise in your head aside. Aggressively focus into every single word being sung. Oftentimes, joining in with the music and singing along will help you focus. So sing with your entire being to Him. Imagine His eyes gazing on you with deep love as you sing your adoration right to Him.

I find many times that when I am starting out my quiet time, my mind resists coming into focus. This last exercise helps me force it to get into gear. If the whole song went by and I wasn’t able to focus much, I don’t get down on myself. I simply put it on again, and repeat the effort.

Sometimes I will play the same song five or six times, for two possible reasons: One, because I just needed that much help getting focused. Or two, because once I do get focused, Holy Spirit comes in powerfully on that song. It begins to go so deeply inside of me, that I don’t want to stop. His intimacy shows up in a breathtaking way that gets more and more intense with each repetition.

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What about you? What have been some strategies that have helped bring your mind back to center from its wandering ways?

16 thoughts on “Overcoming Prayer ADHD

  1. People have asked me about their minds wandering when they pray. (None of them has connected it with AHDH,) I remind them that we do that to friends and the family when we’re talking on the phone; when that happens, we apologize and continue the conversation. I’m sure God understands. J.

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    1. That is so very true! He knows that we are dust, and has deep compassion on our frailties and weaknesses, and a mind-blowing amount of patience with our growth process! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, J. 🙂

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    1. That’s a wonderful one! It also helps me with my Bible reading. I find that if my mind is wandering, and then I start reading the passage out loud, the sound of my voice draws the attention of my mind back to focus on the words and their meaning. Thank you for bringing up this vital strategy!

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  2. Thank you. All suggestions are helpful and bring blessings. One discipline I believe the Holy Spirit taught me was that I was to look out of the window and find a clear patch of blue between clouds or a space between trees or a patch that I could focus my eyes upon. Then I would lift my hand as if in worship/surrender and spiritually reach out to Him. Abba Father I am connecting to You. Thank You. then I would by faith turn on a switch (ie like the light switch) and believe it was the ‘connection’ being forged. This action beginning kept my mind and my spirt focussed above and prayer did seem to flow without mind wandering. Word, Worship and journal always with me. Speaking scripture aloud as well was also immensely valuable. My prayer is that I could be disciplined to sincerely pray every day but at least One Morning I can take as my Prayer Morning. Blessings and Grace. Peace!

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    1. Wow, I like that very much! I’ll have to try that, about the connection switch. That strongly resonates as a very powerful, helpful tool. As does everything you’ve shared. I don’t always manage it with so much going on in life, but as often as possible, I try to spend one day a week all day with Him. Those are my favorite days by far!

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  3. This is a well thought out, well written, and important post. You have given good advice as well as touched my heart with your closeness to the Lord. It thrills me when I see, hear, read of other’s love for the Lord. I deserves hearing some good come from this evil world. Good post. Thanks.

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