Do you find it a challenge to listen to God, to calm your mind when thoughts and tasks pull you many different directions? Overcome distraction to focus your attention on God with the simple ideas in this post. Discover practical tips to help you listen to God and develop spiritual attention, as you become more aware of his presence.
In today’s digital age of distraction, it is difficult to focus our attention on God. How many times have you meant to read your Bible but responded to texts, emails, and social media instead?
No judgment here. I recognize the challenge of spiritual attention when we see notifications pop up on our cell phones. Haven’t most of us adopted the habit of keeping our phones with us day and night?
Digital distractions creep into the everyday moments of life, present in most of our waking hours. Too often we rush through the day with an unsettled soul and an underlying anxiety at the condition of the world.
Technology, communication, and entertainment aren’t the only source of distractions in our lives. The pace of work and family life often squeeze out time and mental bandwidth for staying connected to God.
Sometimes, it feels like a total win to sit down and open my Bible. Maybe you can relate to the following:
Just as I begin to pray, a thought pops into my head. “Make sure you take something out of the freezer for dinner.” Hoping I remember later, I press on, trying to settle my mind and listen to God. Then a problem comes to mind, bringing with it negative thoughts and unwanted emotions… “I didn’t get that work project finished yesterday. Why am I so slow? Why can’t I get it together?”
I’m trying to focus here! I often feel like I have spiritual ADD. How about you? Do you find it a challenge to focus your attention on God?
Skye Jethani shares a shift that reframes my concept of focus, attention, and prayer. He stresses the importance of “coming to prayer as communion and not just communication.” (With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God).
Remembering the the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit helps us focus. We live in connection with God in all that we do, not just when we pray and read our Bible. A deeper life increases as we learn to be attentive to God in all of life. We can start now to develop a deeper relationship with God.
15 Simple Ways to Overcome Distraction to Focus Your Attention on God
Consider this list of ideas to experience a deeper, more focused relationship with God. Choose a few of these to practice today.
- Silence your phone and put it out of sight.
- Take a few deep breaths, letting go of tension as you exhale. Breathe in the life of God and exhale your distracting thoughts.
- Give yourself time to transition from activity to attentiveness from doing to being present.Stillness and silence helps turn our thoughts to God. Praying this phrase from Psalm 46 is helpful: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
- If you get distracted, just come back to focusing on God.
- Keep paper handy to note tasks that come to mind. Writing relieves you of the fear of forgetting something important
- Ask Holy Spirit to help you focus on God and block distractions from your mind.
- Read a Psalm or short devotion as helpful “warm up” for your attention. Devotions and other spiritual reading instruct, inspire, and equip us. Be sure you don’t let them replace a consistent practice of meditating on God’s Word.
- Journal thoughts and emotions on days when you feel overwhelmed with an issue. Write it out to God, getting it out of your head and onto paper. When problems are consuming, this practice can help us clear our heads. Written prayers remind us of God’s presence in the midst of challenges we face. This can be helpful before or after your time of meditative reading. Trust the Spirit to lead you as there isn’t a right or wrong order to any of this.
- Read a short passage of Scripture. Pause to listen to the thoughts and impressions the Holy Spirit brings to mind as you read and pray. You may find it helpful to read the passage a couple of times, pausing after each phrase.
- Write the Word. When a verse stands out, write the verse in a journal or notebook. Many enjoy being creative with how they write the verse, tapping into both sides of the brain. Emphasize words that resonate with larger print, color, picture, or different style (you don’t have to be a great artist). Writing slows our minds and focuses attention. Adding a creative element integrates the right and left brain. Expect the Holy Spirit to speak through insight, observation, impression, or reflection.
- Ask God, “What do you want me to know about this today?” Stay on the topic rather than wander into your prayer list of needs and concerns. (You can pray about those in a few minutes). Write thoughts, feelings, questions, or observations that come to mind. View this interchange as a relaxed conversation between trusted friends. For those who don’t like to journal, try using bullet points and short phrases instead.
- Invite the Holy Spirit to continue the conversation and help you to commune with God during your day.
- Take a pause during the day, a mental time out. Turn your attention to God with a quick prayer as you remind yourself of his presence. (The stick figure illustration above is visual reminder of God’s continual presence).
- Memorize a Bible verse on attending to God. Trust the Holy Spirit to remind you of God’s presence through the verse.
- Trust God with your spiritual attention. Ask for his help and then trust him to develop deeper attention over time. You will discover your own ways of settling your thoughts and opening your ears to God’s voice.
Try these simple ways to focus your attention on God and open your ears to God’s voice. Growing deeper with God begins with the love of God and continues with our response. We respond with a desire to hear God. Echo the words of the young Samuel, “Speak, for Your servant is listening”(1 Samuel 3:10).
Making the effort to focus our attention on God places us in a heart posture to receive all the Lord has for us today. Bring the holy into your moments with deeper spiritual attention. You can entrust your battle with distraction to God’s loving care.
Remember Moses and the burning bush? What would have happened if he had not payed attention to what God was doing?
Intention and attention go together.
Prayer, listening, and meditative Bible reading can train us to pay attention to God in all we do.
Like Moses, may God give us the “capacity to see the bush burning in the middle of our own life and having enough sense to turn aside, take off our shoes and pay attention! The burning bush was, after all, a most ordinary object that became extraordinary because it was on fire with divine activity.” (Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership).
Let’s not miss what God has for us today because we were too distracted. Deal? What helps you overcome distraction for a deeper life with God?
Overcome distraction and focus your attention on God with the simple ideas in this post. Discover practical tips to help you develop spiritual attention. #spiritualattention #focus Click To Tweet Did you grab the printable version of this list? Click on the image to download.
More Posts on Developing Deeper Attention with God
- Do You Have Spiritual ADD?
- Discover 6 Important Truths About Listening to God
- When You Long for God to Speak to You
- 5 Simple Ways Silence can Deepen Your Faith
- 8 Powerful Ways to Connect with God when He is Silent
- Simple Ways to Meditate on God’s Word
- Be Still to Discover Your Strong
- 4 Simple Ways to Make Time for God in a Busy Life
Learn more about deepening your relationship with God in Ginger’s book. Enhance your reading experience in this fun and interactive group of readers on FB. Request to join here. A new discussion begins in September 2021!
You can order your copy of Holy in the Moment here. Check out the Holy in the Moment book page for a free discussion/journal guide and other resources.
*This post includes affiliate links at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my writing ministry.