Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (The Message)
Many of us find ourselves starting off praying for a certain thing or person and within minutes find ourselves thinking about the weather forecast or the shopping to be done that day or what we plan to do next weekend.
What to do about wandering thoughts? It is certainly not a cause for giving up in despair. Our all too fallible minds tend to lack discipline. The God to whom we pray does not turn aside from us when our prayers go off in all sorts of directions. In fact, it can be that those so called “wandering thoughts” may be promptings by the Spirit. Those seemingly irrelevant thoughts may become prayer points.
So, instead of vainly battling apparent distractions, we may be better advised to briefly commit them to God in prayer and get back to what we were originally praying about. And, yet, at other times we do need to stay focused. We can use aids in this. We can centre on a Bible verse, or a piece of music, or some artistic work to bring us back on track. We can pray aloud if possible.
We will never completely overcome wandering thoughts in prayer. But we must never give up because of them. God delights in our prayers and understands our human limitations. We pray as we can, not as we can’t.