My desk can get really messy. Depending on the day it may be covered in books, pens, receipts, and mail. Right no there is a bag of almonds, a bottle of air freshener and a stress ball taking up space. The clutter can make it hard to focus sometimes, so when I need to work on something important I take the time to clear my desk first. With a clear desk it is easier for me to set my mind on the most important things without being distracted.
Your mind is like a desk. We set things on it that need attention but we can’t get to right now. It gets filled up with small unresolved problems. It gets cluttered with information, events, things we need to do, and details we need to work out.
It can be difficult to pray when our minds are cluttered and distracted. Ask yourself these questions:
- How can I talk to God about what’s going on my life if I can’t even organize my own thoughts?
- How can I find the words to pray when I can’t make sense of what’s swirling through my mind?
- How can I bring order to my chaotic mind enough to talk to my heavenly Father in a way that makes sense to him and me?
To truly connect with God, we need to prepare our minds before we pray. One way to do that is through Mindful Prayer.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Mindfulness is not a spiritual principle, but a psychological one. It is a state of mind in which we are able to fully engage in the present moment without allowing ourselves to be distracted or controlled by the constant activity of our busy minds. In short, it is having our minds completely focused on what we are doing right now. It is so powerful in helping to focus and calm the mind that it is used to treat PTSD in soldiers who have been on the battlefield.
Now let’s apply it to prayer. When we come to God with our minds buzzing with distractions, it creates a cloud that is hard for us to see through. But when we prepare our minds in advance to speak to and hear from God, his presence is so much more real and powerful in our lives.
Mindful prayer is simply being fully focused and aware of the overwhelming presence of God when we pray.
In one of his Psalms David writes about how he had a lot on his mind.
The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.
What he was going through would make any of us stressed, anxious and distracted. But look at what he did in response…
I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.
David’s reaction to the chaotic events in his life and mind was to quiet his mind, meditate on God, and allow the urgency of God’s presence to meet his needs. David, and many others in scripture, practiced mindful prayer.
It is the act of clearing the desk off to make room for the most important thing. It is the discipline of intentionally setting aside everything we are worried about or working on so we can best experience his presence. It is clearing our minds first so we can better focus on God without being distracted.
Mindfulness Coach is an app created by the Veterans Administration to help veterans, service members, and others learn how to practice mindfulness. It provides a gradual, self-guided training program designed to help you understand and adopt a simple mindfulness practice. You can download it to your mobile device here. Remember, it is not a spiritual program, but one that will help us better manage the distractions of our busy minds in order to fully encounter God when we pray.
God is attracted to our stillness. As you learn to quiet your mind, expect to experience his presence like never before.