4 + 4 Strategies To Eliminate Distractions To Your Prayer Time

There’s a quote that has been the theme for this series on prayer: “Prayer pursues joy in fruitful fellowship with Jesus, knowing that God is glorified when we bear fruit in answer to prayer. Why do God’s children so often fail to have consistent habits of happy, fruitful prayer? Unless I’m badly mistaken, one of the reasons is not so much that we don’t want to, but that we don’t plan to.” —John Piper 

And unless I’m badly mistaken, the most obvious thing we need to plan to eliminate is distractions. 

Some people say they can juggle a lot of things at once. “I’m a really good multitasker,” they say. But science says differently. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller concluded that our brains are “not wired to multitask well…. When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.” What is that cognitive cost? “Multitasking can drop IQ as much as 15 points, essentially turning you into the cognitive equivalent of an 8-year-old” (Inc. Magazine). 

If the devil can make you think you can multitask prayer with other things, he has seriously inhibited the effectiveness of your prayers. 

Jesus was not a multitasker—but He was singularly focused on His Father’s plan. And yet He accomplished more in His three years of public ministry than anyone else in history! 

Here are 4 strategies to help you get ready to pray:

  1. Try to have your prayer time in the same place and at the same time. Your brain likes routine and it will help you zero-in during your scheduled prayer times. 
  2. Silence your cell phone or other noisy distractions. 
  3. Keep a notepad handy for random thoughts that pop into your head. Writing them down will keep your brain from switching back-and-forth to them.
  4. Focus on listening, not on talking—Eugene Peterson said, “Prayer is first of all a means of listening. Prayer is an act of attention.” 

When we get right down to it, prayer is spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10-18). In the context of warfare, the word strategy means the maneuvering that takes place prior to the battle. The devil is a masterful tactician, and he will do everything he can to keep you distracted. 

That’s why three times Peter tells us to be clear-minded and singularly-focused in our thoughts SO THAT we can pray without the hindrances of distractions (1 Peter 1:13-14; 4:7; 5:8-9). And Paul tells us to take all our thoughts captive, so that no un-Christlike thoughts are inhibiting our prayer time (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). 

Here are 4 strategies to help you stay focused in prayer:

  1. A—adoration. Enter into God’s presence with a Psalm or worship music. 
  2. C—confession. Deal with unconfessed sin, unforgiveness, or relationship strife as quickly as possible (Psalm 66:18; Matthew 5:21-24). 
  3. T—thanksgiving. Paul counseled us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition WITH thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).  
  4. S—supplication. Intercede for your brothers and sisters in the battles they are facing (James 5:16; Job 42:10; Ephesians 6:18).  

Remember—

Prayer isn’t preparation for the battle; prayer IS the battle! Let’s not be distracted from that!

5 Quotes On Problem Solving From “Brain-Savvy Leaders”

Brain-Savvy LeadersCharles Stone’s book Brain-Savvy Leaders is chockfull of helpful information! When you understand more how your brain works, you can leverage its power more efficiently. Here are some quotes he shared about problem solving.

“Only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.” —Pope Paul VI 

“As a part of the C-system, the prefrontal cortex processes bits of information one after the other (serial) instead of several at the same time (parallel). … When we try to process too much information at once, the prefrontal cortex’s serial processing nature can result in mental processing bottlenecks that in turn can lead to unfinished thoughts and tasks. … When we attempt many mental tasks at once, our thinking degrades, accuracy drops, we focus on the urgent instead of the important, we forget things, and the quality of future decisions gets muddied.”

Coffee, caffeinated drinks (but not too many), exercise, and novelty can increase the amount of these neurotransmitters and get us into a more productive and focused state.”

“Charlan Nemeth, a psychology professor at the University of California-Berkeley, performed a creativity study in 2003. She divided 265 female students into groups of five and asked them to generate as many ideas as possible on how to decrease traffic congestion in the San Francisco Bay area. Each team received one of three conditions and was given twenty minutes to complete the task. Either they used the traditional ‘no criticism’ brainstorming technique, or they generated as many ideas as possible but could debate and criticize each one, or they received no instructions. The ‘debate and criticize’ teams generated 20 percent more ideas than the other two groups. … Debate…adds the element of surprise that engages the brain.”

“When trying to solve problems, encourage your team to imagine themselves a year from now instead of imagining themselves tomorrow. Studies show that this time perspective fosters more creativity.”

You can read my book review of Brain-Savvy Leaders by clicking here.

I have also shared other quotes from this book on learning, brain health, and emotional health.

Being Quiet

I love technology. But along with all of the technology comes a whole lot of noise. Not necessarily the noise that your ears pick up, but the noise in your mind.

  • We’ve got Facebook for the latest social updates.
  • Twitter and blogs for the latest news and commentary.
  • Flickr, Twitpic, and Intragram for the latest pictures.
  • LinedIn for the latest business interactions.
  • Cell phones for instant messaging.

And if we miss out on any of those things, we feel left behind.

Here’s the ironic thing about all of this social media. Trying to keep up with everything and everyone raises the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) in our bodies. And cortisol actually increases anti-social behavior.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Imbalanced Mother

We had a great time celebrating Moms yesterday. Moms are these amazing creatures that seem to be everywhere and doing everything. This ability to multi-task is a blessing, but it can lead to problems if Moms try to perfectly balance their lives through more multi-tasking.

Perfect balance is an impossibility. Just as soon as you think you have everything balanced, life throws you a curve: a sick child … a flat tire … change of plans … I’m sure you know the drill.

Instead of trying to be the perfectly balanced multi-tasker, I suggest that you become a purposely imbalanced, God-leaning Mother. Imbalance your day toward God. Take the time necessary to lean into God, and the rest of your day will be well-ordered.

Dads and kids, the greatest thing you can do to honor your wife/mother, is to make sure she has undisturbed time alone with God. I promise you that after she spends this time, the rest of her day – and therefore your day – will go much more smoothly. Help her to imbalance her life.

Here’s a great poem from Faye Inchfawn written in 1920 –

See, I am cumbered, Lord,
With serving, and with small vexatious things.
Upstairs, and down, my feet
Must hasten, sure and fleet.
So weary that I cannot heed Thy word;
So tired, I cannot now mount up with wings.
I wrestle – how I wrestle! – through the hours.
Nay, not with principalities, nor powers –
Dark spiritual foes of God’s and man’s –
But with antagonistic pots and pans:
With footmarks in the hall,
With smears upon the wall,
With doubtful ears, and small unwashen hands,
And with a babe’s innumerable demands.
I toil with feverish haste, while tear-drops glisten,
 
(O, child of Mine, be still. And listen – listen!)
 
At last, I laid aside
Important work, no other hands could do
So well (I thought), no skill contrive so true.
And with my heart’s door open – open wide –
With leisured feet, and idle hands, I sat.
I, foolish, fussy, blind as any bat,
Sat down to listen, and to learn. And lo,
My thousand tasks were done the better so.

Thanks, Mom!

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