5 Steps to Focus on Prayer, Rather than Letting Your Mind Wander

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I don’t know about you, but I have always done some of my very best thinking during prayer time or listening to a church sermon. It isn’t on purpose. It’s just that it can be frustratingly hard to focus.

Prayer is something I start with the best of intentions. Like this….it’s funny…..

“Dear Lord, thank you so much for this day, and my husband and children, and this house. You have been so good to me……Ugh, it’s a lunch-packing day, and I forgot to buy bread. What is that brown smudge over there? I’m going to have to clean that up. Oh, Lord, do help Gracie with that problem she’s having. I meant to pray about that. Sanctify her heart. My bra hurts. My pants are hot. What did I set the air conditioner on? This summer I’m going to save $250 by not joining the neighborhood pool…Oh yeah, please help Gracie. Give her wisdom for this.”

Yes, it’s that bad. No, all of those thoughts are not prayer thoughts, or even related thoughts. This is how brains sometimes work!

We have to INTENTIONALLY find a way to focus on our prayer, and I recently came across a plan that smoothed out that jacked up roller coaster ride that used to be my prayers.

I found it in this book:


I’m reading this book with a small group of women at my church. Page 15 had the prayer-changing-strategy that I found so helpful.

First, the authors, Ralph W. Neighbor, Jr. and Bill Latham, take you through the Lord’s prayer to remind us how Jesus said to pray. Most of us are familiar with that.

But then, they actually break it down to prompts that you PERSONALIZE for your life on that day.

5 steps to more focused prayer, rather than letting your mind wander

These are the questions they ask you to fill in:

  1. “What will you say to God to show how you respect and honor him?” Then they give you space to write out what you are actually going to say.
  2. “What part of your life and your world do you need to commit to God’s control today?” ____________________________________________
  3. They ask you what you need to ask forgiveness for. Ouch. Yep. Be honest.
  4. “Where do you need God’s protection in your life today?”  I love that we have this sort of heavenly Father. He WILL give you protection where you need it, when you ask him.
  5. “What can you say and do to recognize God’s rule over your life today?”


These 5 simple, PERSONAL, questions provide you with an outline to focus on your prayers.

It’s not just a list of gimme, gimme, gimme either. It’s a true heart check and conversation starter.

Yes, many of us keep a prayer list of names and needs, but this is better than that alone because it changes everyday, and it encourages you to give God glory and thanksgiving, rather than just a list of requests.

I found it much easier to FOCUS on what I was praying, using this guide, than my typical mode of just letting the words flow from my mind and heart with no aforethought. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as I showed at the beginning, I simply have trouble FOCUSING.

Many people use a 5 step outline for prayer, but I found this to be even better for my mind-wandering because it required me to write down what I wanted to say on this particular day, what was relevant at the moment.

I hope you find this useful. I think it would be wonderful to fill up an entire notebook of prayer outlines like this, all filled in.


“Our Father in heaven,

hallowed by your name.

Your kingdom come, 

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, 

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.”

–Jesus, in Matthew 6: 9-13


I hope you all have a wonderful week. It’s the first week of summer here! Time to have fun with the kids!




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