If you’re anything like me, your mind drifts during prayer. Of course, you have the best intentions. One second you’re talking about the struggles of the day and suddenly your mind shifts to that pending to do list, the items you forgot at the grocery store, what time you have to get up tomorrow… Soon you’ve forgotten where your train of thought started, and if your thoughts do stumble back to that prayer, you can’t help but feel disappointed with yourself.
We all fall short of the standards we hope to achieve, especially when it comes to our spiritual disciplines. It’s human to make mistakes, but those shortfalls also provide opportunities for improvement and change.
One of the many wonderful things about our God is His compassion. He offers us mercy and understanding in the big and small things. Because we are able to experience a personal relationship with Him, there is freedom in our practices, including prayer. Praying alone in your head or aloud with other people are not your only options.
One of my favorite ways to pray is through journaling. Not only does this allow me to keep my mind on track, but I can also see how I’ve changed and the ways my prayers have been answered over time. This practice has also taught me to keep my prayers concise. Matthew 6:7-8 says, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” When I pray quietly to myself, I tend to drone on, which leads to my thoughts derailing into irrelevant territory. And although I’m the type of person that can write forever, my hand eventually hurts, urging me to stop. So praying through writing forces me to get to the point. Instead of focusing so much time and energy on myself, I can offer those requests and concerns to God and then await His response, grace, and peace.
Maybe journaling isn’t for you, but there are plenty of options available to one who is willing to explore them. Some people sing hymns or recite Bible verses as their prayers. Others speak their prayers aloud, even when they’re alone. I’ve also known some very artistic individuals who will paint or draw certain words as they meditate over prayers and scriptures.
The point is, our God is innovative. He created everything from the fish in the sea to the stars in the sky to every person on the planet. He’s also instilled His sense of creativity into us, so why not use it? No matter what method of prayer you prefer, know that God hears you and will answer in His time.