The Art of Undistracted Prayer

The Art of Undistracted Prayer

by Leslie Ludy | January 1, 2013

Perhaps the most amazing privilege of the Christian life is storming the throne of grace and laboring in fervent prayer for the things burdening God’s heart. However, any Christian who has embarked on such a heroic act would easily agree that it requires much effort to fix your eyes upon Jesus – and keep them there. What starts out as a well-meaning, passionate time of communion with God can quickly turn into a mental struggle in which the human brain becomes a revolving door with random thoughts trailing in and out. But God is deserving of all of us – our attention, our energies, and our listening ears – and thus we must take determined action to ward off anything that would seek to distract our minds from being perfectly in tune with His Spirit. 

All of us on the setapartgirl team have desired to triumph over this obstacle in our own spiritual lives, and God has faithfully shown us specific ways to stay focused in the prayer closet. Here is some of what we’ve learned:


I have a mind that is swirling with ten different thoughts or ideas at any given moment, and when I begin to pray, they all clamor for my attention. I may start out praying silently in my head about one thing, and before I know it, I am wandering down a completely different path. One way I guard against such travels of the mind is to pray out loud. When I audibly give voice to my prayers, my mind is better able to focus and all other possible roads of thought fade away. If I am in a setting where it might be distracting to pray out loud, I write my prayers down in my journal if I have it with me, or any paper I have on hand. 


One thing that helps me stay focused during my prayer times is to MOVE! I have found that I tend to get drowsy and foggy (especially early in the morning) if I try to pray while curled up with a blanket or kneeling for a long time. Because of this, I like to pace back and forth or walk around the room I'm praying in. I still love to kneel when I pray, but if I realize I'm starting to lose focus, then I know it's time to get up and move! It may feel strange at first to pace while praying (it did for me), but if it keeps you sharp and focused, then go for it! Jesus is worthy of our undivided attention and fellowship, so our prayer lives must be protected at all costs.

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Heading out for an early morning walk is one of my favored methods of practicing undistracted prayer. Escaping my normal, daily surroundings to journey out for prayer energizes my body and practically aids in keeping me focused. As I am out and about treading a familiar path, the chance of my eyes being drawn to a picture-framed memory or sticky note reminder is eliminated. As you set your pace to pray in the fresh air, I am certain you will discover the beauty and delight in set apart, distraction-free time with the Heavenly Bridegroom.  As the old whimsical hymn says, “And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am his own! And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known!”


It’s strange, but as soon as I start praying, my mind runs off in all directions! I have to do ... I shouldn’t forget ... ah, what a great time we had ... oh, I wonder ... sigh. I am not praying at all! My escape route? Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). If the thought popping up is a “do” or “remember” one, I quickly jot it down on my computer or a sticky note and continue praying. This way, it won’t distract me again (and I won’t forget about it either). But if it’s a wandering thought into lala-land, I throw it out at once with a white-knuckled fist and a firm, out loud “NO,” and instantly get back to what I was praying. I work hard to be focused and sharp, to be there 100% – for I am having a most important conversation with my Beloved, the King of all kings.


If you’re in a place where you can’t find a quiet spot, find some calm instrumental music to put on your iPod to tune out the noises around you. It’s best if there are no words to ensure a focused time of prayer, otherwise, it might become a distraction. There are times to worship and times to press into fervent prayer. Sometimes I get sidetracked by worshiping God or thinking about the music instead of wrestling in prayer, so I purposefully do not listen to worship music during those times.

Another thing that can either help or hinder your prayers is writing them out. Typing on your computer may cause a temptation to check your email or hop on Facebook. If this is a problem for you, take the initiative to disconnect from the Internet during your prayer time. Writing prayers in a journal is less distracting, but if there is a tendency to doodle or pay too much attention to how nice your writing looks, this may need to be avoided. I love to write my prayers, but sometimes I end up not really praying and start writing about my day or life in general, so I have to be watchful about staying on track.


While none of us are perfect in this area, every morning is a new opportunity to give our full attention to Christ and allow Him to continually train us in the prayer closet. If we are purposeful to remove anything (even good things) that might stand in the way of unhindered communion with our King, and go before His throne with a willing heart and steadfast resolve, He will be faithful to shape us into the mighty women of prayer we are all called to be.*