The distraction can become a direction – to God.
One of the biggest hindrances to an effective prayer life is the problem of mind wandering. This greatly distresses many Christians. How do we cope with this vexing problem?
When the mind wanders, let the thing to which it wanders become the focus of your prayer.
If you are beset by wandering thoughts, perhaps even evil thoughts, then instead of wrestling with them, trying to beat them down, use them as a prayer focus. In this way, you will be able to take the thought captive to the Obedience of Christ.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
2 Corinthians 10:5
My experience is always allowing my thoughts to float and be fully expressive during my prayer times. And rather than fighting it, I simply re-force it and enrich my conversation with God. This has resulted in many productive outcomes. Such as great inspiration to write, deeper insight into issues, fore-knowledge about people, and wisdom on how to deal with them.
You cannot wrestle with nor fight your thought. The more you do, the more blooming and powerful it becomes. Infact, the scripture say we should “wrestle not…” but rather says we should “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. Yes, that the key point. Just “Take into Captivity” and not “Fight”; anyway we are no Wrestlers but Conquerors.
For instance, a plane flying overhead while you are in prayer. Begin to focus on the crew and passengers of the plane. Ask God to keep them safe and to give everyone on board an understanding of His love for them as expressed in the Cross.
Here the mind wandered, but in the end it wandered to God.
The ONLY way you can take a thought captive; even anything else, is to allow it reveal itself for what it really is, and then take decisive action against it. You cannot captivate what is not seen, nor bind what cannot be handled.
A man was afflicted by evil thoughts the moment he got down to prayer. Lustful images would rise unbidden into his mind. Unable to cope with the problem he gave up on his prayer life and became defeated and downcast.
He was shown how to take each lustful thought and use it to God’s ends. This is how it was done. When a lustful thought entered his mind (in his case, a naked woman or an erotic bedroom scene). He was advised not to try and push it from his mind (that merely uses up emotional energy to no good purpose) but to picture Christ standing with him, looking on the image in his mind.
He would then, in his imagination, turn to Christ and pray along this line: ‘Lord, you can see this image that is before me. I know it comes from that part of my nature that is carnally inclined. Sex was designed by You to be beautiful and clean, but in my thoughts it has become defiled and impure. Fill my imagination with such a picture of You that it will take up the whole perspective of my thoughts.’
As this man learned to focus his wandering thoughts on Jesus and use these moments to develop a conversation with Christ, he found, after a while, that whereas before he was unable to dismiss the wandering thoughts with a peremptory word, they were now elbowed out by the vision of Jesus that he held in his mind.
Christ is the centre of all things pure. Lustful images steadily dissolve on the steady gaze of His searching eyes. The thing that looked so seductive a moment before looks loathsome with Jesus consciously present.
Coolness in the place of heat, and serenity instead of desire, are the reward of those who are swift to bring Jesus alongside the pictures that enter the mind.
Practicing this method of overcoming mind wandering will make Jesus more real to your heart than He had ever been before. You will have such a clear picture of Christ in your mind and will develop the art of conversational prayer to such a great degree. By this also, the plague of evil thoughts and distracting ideas become the stepping stones to a more personal and dependent relationship with the Lord.’
Moreover, the place of Personal discipline in prayer is very vital.
You cannot be deliberately careless and undisciplined with your prayer environment, and what you allow form your thoughts, and expect not to be distracted. Shall we continue to live in SIN of carelessness that grace for concentration may abound? God Forbid. You cannot sit down to see useless carousing and violent movies, listen to vain and ungodly music, and entertain idle notions while at the same time want to do effectivity prayer.
“Therefore be clear minded and be sober for the purpose of prayers,” 1 Peter 4:7 Berean Literal Bible
It is your primary responsibility not to create a foothold of distraction in your mind. The scripture already warns…” Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
For instance, many of us, many a times, will leave our phones, TVs, and electronic devices on during prayer times and yet really want to pray effectively without distraction. Not so!
You need to deliberately create the right and private environment for prayer. This was Jesus method, and a servant is not greater than his master. (Mathew 14:3, Luke 6:12, 9:28, Mark 3:12)
The wandering thoughts can be handled in the way I have shown in a matter of days. It takes a little time to get into the habit of dealing with issues in the manner described, but after a while, and with practice, you will be able to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
You are blessed!