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Does Your Mind Wander When you Pray?

Have you ever been praying, and start to think of what you have to do for the day?

Suddenly, things pop into your mind out of nowhere that take you off to another place.

I’ve been told that those things are a distraction. That I just need to concentrate harder and seek God more, and that when my mind wanders, I need to have more discipline to stop thinking about ______, or ______. I’ve been told that my wandering mind is a sign of weakness.

I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not so much a sign of weakness, but a sign of

  • what I’m valuing at the moment. This is both a heart-check (what’s really important to me?) and a “Wow, I’ve really been thinking about that a lot…maybe I should pray about it.” Our mouths speak (or, in this instance, “our minds think”) what our hearts are full of. (Luke 6:45)
  • God helping me remember things that I need to do. Is it not God that is the creator of the mind? Does He not know all things, including what we need to be in the business of doing? Does He not hold all things together? (Colossians 1:17) We are commanded to ask God for wisdom…don’t be shocked when He gives it. (James 1:5)
  • God reminding me people and situations I need to pray for. Ever have someone or something, seemingly random, pop into your head when you’re praying? I do. And I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.

I know that prayer is not all about me and my situation and my relationships and my life…I realize that connecting with God through prayer is essential for simply building my relationship with my Creator.

But I’m going to be easier on myself when my mind starts to wander. I’m taking every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Do you think that God speaks in this way?

Does your mind wander when you pray?

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Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, "Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint," he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.