Have you ever had trouble keeping focus on God while spending time with Him?
I have. In fact, I’ve struggled with focusing on God throughout my history of devotional times. My mind strays.
It’s worse than that: my mind is almost always running in multiple directions at the same time. Just last night, I thought I might like to hear Gordon Lightfoot’s Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald again. So, I started a search for it.
I ended not listening to it, but instead I read the entire article on Wikipedia about the wreck, and several branching articles as well. Distraction is a way of life for me.
But, this isn’t good when you’re trying to have a quiet time with God. Not good indeed.
But, a while back I remembered something in Gary Thomas’s book Sacred Pathways: “centering prayer”. The idea is that when you’re praying and your mind wanders (that takes about 10 seconds for me), you say a word to yourself. Use the same word, and it’s just a trigger to put the focus back on God.
It works. It’s not 100% (yet?), but it’s better, at least for me. I chose the word “focus”. Whenever my mind runs off to the weather or something I want to write or any of a thousand other topics, I say “focus” to myself.
Thomas’s book mentions that this practice is ancient. It’s primarily rooted in Eastern Orthodox churches, but is also practiced by a lot of Catholics and Protestants. I don’t know much about Orthodoxy, but I like this idea.
I’ve started practicing it (when I remember!), and it seems to help.
If you want to read about it, it’s under the chapter about Contemplatives in Thomas’s book. The sub-heading is Centering Prayer.
Now, I’m not a Contemplative by any stretch of the imagination. But, this practice (like most practices) isn’t limited to just one temperament. But, it helps.
So, if you struggle with this as well, try picking a word and using it to redirect your focus.
By the way, I HIGHLY recommend Sacred Pathways. If you’re only going to read one book this year, and your choices are either my book or Thomas’s, please choose Thomas’s. My book can help most Christians, and especially those who have been struck by hard times. But, Sacred Pathways can revolutionize relationships with God. My book helps the hurting. Thomas’s can help ALL Christians.
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