September 10, 2018

Distracting Thoughts

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever been talking with a friend, only to stop and wonder how you ended up talking about a particular topic? It's so easy to flow from one thing to another, and then another, that sometimes it's hard to trace how the conversation went from where you started to where you were by the end.

Prayer can be like that, too, if we let it.

Sometimes when I pray I have a particular thought in mind when I start and I try so hard to keep myself focused on that one thing, but my mind keeps wandering in all sorts of different directions. It gets frustrating because I feel like I should be praying only about this one thing, whatever it is, but other thoughts keep getting in the way.

Or maybe I'm trying to pray according to a particular 'formula' - first praise, then thankfulness, then requests for others and so on. But those random, distracting, thoughts keep coming and taking me out of whatever I'm trying to pray.

I'm guessing you know what I'm talking about. So why not just lose ourselves in those distracting thoughts, allowing ourselves time to talk to God about each one of them? Obviously they have some measure of importance in our minds or we wouldn't be thinking about them at all. Rather than forcing them away, why not include them in our prayers, asking God for help in those situations, if needed, or praising Him for them if that's what is required. If it's worry that is coming to mind, then that's all the more reason to bring it to God rather than trying to banish it.

Peter tells us to "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you" (1 Peter 5:7). All of our worries and cares are important to Him, even the ones that may seem trivial to us. If it keeps coming up in your mind, then talk to Him about it and let Him help carry the burden.

Paul wrote, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7). I love the notion of telling God what we need and thanking Him for what He has already done. That encompasses everything, doesn't it?

Lastly, Jesus Himself asked, "Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" (Matthew 6:27). Obviously, the answer to that is a resounding no, so it makes sense to do whatever we can to stem the tide of worries rolling through our minds. Talking to God about what worries us may not immediately change the situation, but it can easily relieve our minds, which is often just as good.
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Prayer is not supposed to be intimidating or difficult. It's a conversation with Someone who loves us and is interested in our every thought and feeling. So let's share all of them with Him.

1 comment:

  1. I was on a Christian retreat with 70+ teenagers and young adults over Labor Day weekend, and one of our small group discussion topics was right in line with this. I was at the Adult Table, with several young pastors, 20-somethings, and two other moms around my age. It was interesting to hear about different people's prayer lives and routines. I like to pray at night as I'm falling to sleep -- laying all my burdens down, peeling away my anxieties and worldly concerns at the end of the day as I reconnect with God. But someone else at my table likes to do their main prayer in the morning, at the start of the day, as they organize their thoughts around everything they need to do for the day, the challenges they will face, and ask God to be with them and guide their actions and words to be pleasing to Him. Still others described more of a "stream-of-consciousness" prayer style that goes on intermittently throughout the day, praying throughout the day "in real time" as a prayer need occurs to them rather than putting it on a list for their Regularly Scheduled Big Prayer. And I totally get what you're describing, about your mind drifting to something else when you're trying to pray in an organized fashion so as not to forget anything. The Bible tells us that God already know our needs before we even ask, and prayer is more about us opening up to God and being receptive to the Holy Spirit than it is about us briefing God about what we need Him to do for us. So, when I'm trying to pray "in order" and my mind wanders off to something else that's bothering me, I feel like that's the Holy Spirit saying, "Come on, Rebecca -- let's talk about where you're REALLY struggling right now." :-)


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