Tuesday, February 5, 2013

fighting distraction in prayer

Here's how my morning prayer time went, I kid you not:

"Oh Father, I love you- help me to be more like you, God."

I wonder what color I should paint the girls' room...that cream might be too yellow...

"Lord God, I need your help. I am weak and have nothing apart from you."

What color should we paint the stairs? Should we use enamel? When in the world will we have time to paint them?

AHHHHH, good grief, what the heck am I thinking about painting for?? I'm in the middle of praying!

"Oh, Lord I'm so sorry my mind keeps wandering. Keep me focused on you, Jesus. I don't even want to be thinking about painting. Please keep the enemy from distracting me right now."

And I have to keep praying that to keep my mind from going to what I'm cooking for dinner, when I'm getting the oil changed in the car, and how the grass is looking this year.

It's so sad.

I might be the only person this ever happens to, but it took me forever to even realize it was happening, and it's still a constant battle to quiet my own thoughts when I pray.

The weird thing is that an entire side of my brain is going 90 miles an hour while I'm trying to speak on the God of the universe.

Sometimes I get so tired of wearing this human flesh.

I started thinking about the reasons why it's always so easy for me to be distracted in prayer:

1. I am a sinner. It is the sinful flesh I'm wearing. The desire in me, even subconsciously, to put anything or myself before God, is horrific and wicked, and it's what started this whole mess back in the Garden.

2. I have a very real enemy who does not want me to have fellowship with God. He hates it when I focus my heart and mind on Him. He's trying everything to take my attention away from God when I am alone with Him.

3. I've made a habit of thinking of everything else but God for many hours of the day. So when it comes time to pray, is it really any surprise that the thoughts I think all day long invade?

While I think about God and pray often throughout the day {and it's increased the more I've grown in Christ- thanks only to God}, I've still given first priority of most of my thoughts to my tasks and plans all day long. I should be meditating on God more throughout my day to make Him the focus of my thoughts. And I should be in the habit of giving Him the first place in my mind.

What's really strange to me: I'm always so surprised when I realize that I was thinking about something else while praying. It's like Jesus says, my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. My heart wants to be entirely focused on God, but my mind won't let me. It's so frustrating, but I've only found one solution.

The one thing that helps me to focus on God while I'm in prayer is to ask Him to help me focus on Him.

As soon as I notice I'm distracted, I ask God to please help me not to think of anything else but Him, and that He would keep Satan back from me. I ask Him to empty my mind, and keep me from loving other things before Him.

And He does it.

He quiets my mind, and it's like all of the sudden there's a hedge around my mind. It's only the God of the universe who can quiet my mental to-do list. He alone can defeat the enemy- I can't do it with my own willpower.

I'm so thankful He can.

It makes such a difference.

I want to love Him with all of me. I want Him to make my heart pure before Him. I want to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength.
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
I want Him to be in my thoughts all day long- I long for my mind to be pure before Him. I don't want anything to come before He does.

It makes me really sad that I think of paint colors{!} or dinner plans while I'm praying. Mostly because I know nothing is hidden from Him. It's not like I can have a separate place in my thoughts He won't notice. And I keep failing Him there, over and over again.

Why does He even help me?

Because He loves me.

He wants me to be pure before Him. He died for me, while I was still a sinner. I wasn't good before He saved me, and I'm not keeping my salvation by being good enough for Him. That's what so incredible.

I don't even really get it. It doesn't make sense to my human heart.

He LOVES me, even when I fail Him. My heart is broken and ugly, but He's giving me a new one. One like His Son's, that won't fail Him.

And that's why He deserves all of my heart. And soul. And strength. And every part of my mind, too.

Oh, He is so good to me.

Thank you Father, for being good when we are not.

Do you find yourself thinking of other things in prayer too? {please tell me I'm not the only one!}

Have you seen God defeat invading thoughts in your prayers? What has helped you?

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