Monday, November 11, 2013

Prayer, the Drifting Mind, and Deburdening (PrayerLife)

Road near Wolverine, Michigan

In my seminary and RMS classes I assign students to pray an hour a day. Most have never done this before.

One thing that happens is the person's mind wanders to things other than God-stuff. What should you do when your mind drifts?

Some suggest that you just "shut it off." My experience is that most are not able to do this.

I suggest that, when your mind wanders, note where it is wandering to. Write it in your journal. Write where your mind is wandering to. You'll find that your mind never wanders arbitrarily. It always wanders to something like a burden. At this point one of two things is happening:

1. The burden is about troubledness in you.
2. The burden is about someone other than you who is troubled.

In both cases this can be a God-thing. 

If the troubled burden is about something within you, write it down in your journal. In this way your wandering mind is a barometer of your spiritual condition. Write the burden down. When you get it on paper it can feel like it's distant from you. 

The wandering mind could also be a God-prompting. God could be leading you to pray for someone else. In this case you become the answer to that other person's prayer.

In either case follow the wisdom of 1 Peter 5:7, which states: "Cast your burdens on him, for he cares for you."

One more thing. I have found that the more a person prays and spend time with God, the less their mind wanders. The more time you spend praying the less you will find your mind wandering, because - as a lifestyle - you are living in a place of constant deburdening.