How to Stay Focused in Prayer

Overcome distractions and stay focused in prayer.

Have you ever had a conversation that went something like this:

Did I tell you about what happened yesterday, I ask my daughter. Texting a friend, she replies with a nod, Hmm…?

It isn’t a stretch to realize that I don’t have her full attention.

Somehow I expect to hear some sort of related response as part of the conversation, but my girl has moved on to talk about something completely different.

Mom, can I borrow the car tonight?

A one-sided conversation.

How often do I talk with God like this? Half listening and flitting from one concern to another in mental overdrive?

Many find it frustrating to talk to God as if conversation with the living God is like talking to a wall. Ever felt like that? I’ve had moments…

When I begin to think of opening my Bible as entering into a personal conversation with the God who loves me, my perspective changes.

AW Tozer Quote.jpg

The distance fades as the words come into focus.

As I read, my spirit listens.

Reading scripture is a conversation with God. As we read, we are hearing from God and the Holy Spirit begins to engage our minds, drawing our attention to particular concepts. Once I pick up on what God is bringing my attention to, I have a choice in how I am going to continue the conversation.

I can sink into a verse and be open to what the Holy Spirit is showing me.

Meditation Rocks

So here is a simple rule in the art of meaningful conversation:

Let’s talk about the same thing.

When we read Scripture and pray, we need to learn to stay on the same subject with God—to respond to what He has said, rather than changing the subject and praying about something else—stay on topic so you can hear all that God has to say.

This morning I am reading John 16:13-14:

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

What do I too often do?

Great verse, Lord. Thanks for guiding me…

And then I whip out my laundry list of prayer requests and I am of praying for Aunt Gertrude—(which by the way is a great thing to do, but that’s not my point).

I ask for help with my parenting and blessing in my writing. I am worrying about my husband’s job and the direction of our government. I scroll down my mental list of concerns and needs.

God is gracious and will keep listening to me…but what have I missed by not staying on topic with what God had to say? His words went in one ear and right out the other with barely a stop in the grey matter between.

What did I miss?

Here are a few gems that I totally glossed over, because I was in a hurry to talk about something else.

  • Jesus is talking about who the Holy Spirit is—the Spirit of truth.
  • Jesus is also talking about what the Spirit will do—guide me into all truth.
  • Through the Spirit’s guidance, all truth, not just some truth, is available for me to learn.
  • Jesus explains how the Spirit decides what He is going to say: He, like Jesus, speaks what He hears the Father say and then he speaks. Wouldn’t we have a lot fewer problems if we learned to do this one thing?

But wait, there’s more…

There’s more about the content of what the Spirit says; He glorifies Jesus and discloses the things of Christ to us.

I missed out on a lot by not sticking with what God was talking about. I think we would be shocked to know all of the things that God was wanting to explain to us if we would take the time to focus– meditating on scripture and listening to God are intrinsically linked.

As I listen more fully to what God wants to show me, I continue the conversation by responding to what He has said. Once we have finished talking about what God wants to show me, then I can pray about a different subject.

So simple.

Encourage a friend by sharing this post today.

For more tips on prayer, check out the prayer chapter in my book.



  1. Wow I had honestly not thought of it that way before, but it is true! Thank you for putting it that way. I hate to say I don’t just do that with God too. What blessings come our way when we slow down and take time to listen. So glad I read this today 🙂 God bless!

    • I’m so glad God knows us inside and out–and understands that we struggle to focus. Thanks so much for sharing today!

  2. I do this all the time and I know I do it and can’t ever seem to make myself completely stop. It’s harder than ever now, with two kids, a full-time job, and trying to earn extra money. My mind is always flitting to what’s next. But there is so much peace and comfort in a good conversation with God (a two-sided one) that I’d be much better off focusing. What a great reminder for me today,

    • I know! I pretty sure I have a squirrel in my brain. For me, writing it down helps me stay focused. And know that he always knows what is in our hearts–we’re the ones who benefit from staying focused;)

  3. Oh…. this is so good, Ginger. Pride rears its ugly head even when we read Scripture or pray. It takes humility to read hoping to be changed, and to listen for guidance or conviction while praying. Thanks for this beautifully written reminder. I needed it today.

    • I write from the reminders God is working into my limited brain. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get it the first time? Thanks for commenting today, Karen. Many blessings!

  4. Wonderful post! I loved the quote by AW Tozer. Writing that one down in my journal to think on for a bit 🙂 Visiting from Thought Provoking Thurs. Blessings!

    • God gifted AW Tozer with such clear thinking and insight. I’m still chewing on that quote myself. Thanks for visiting today.

  5. Thank you for this gentle reminder, Ginger. I do the same thing — read the verses, thank God for the message and get down to the business of supplication. Then there are days — like yesterday — when He leads me to scripture that brings clarity to the very prayers that we on my list! God is good and He is faithful. I’m so glad to have stopped over here from Thought Provoking Thursdays. God Bless!!

    • Yes, God is not fooled by our games and He isn’t frustrated with our weaknesses. Enjoyed your post today. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. LOVED this! Funny (or not!) – God has been speaking to me about the same thing! Waiting in Silence… not rushing ahead on to something new! Stopping by from Holley’s place today!

    • So hard to be still and silent. I hope you’ll be writing on that as I’d love to glean from what God is speaking into your life. Thanks for stopping by, friend!

  7. Why do we always miss the basic stuff? God didn’t make it hard. And He graciously provides all we need. We’re just to focused on “our” stuff. Great analogy with your daughter texting. I shared your steps with my friends on FB, Ginger – have a blessed week!

    • Sharing the journey and the things we are working through along the way opens the door for God to use us as we are. How gracious God is and what joy it is to know that He is speaking in the midst of it all. Thank you for reading and sharing. I am honored. Have a great weekend!

  8. Love! Scheduled a Tweet to share this next Wed. Love the rocking chair idea! Blessings, Ginger!

  9. Death and life is in the power of the tongue.
    I find it easier to pray for others.
    Someone said interceding is sending out God’s love through prayer.

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