Prayer is the perfect topic for me to include in the Squirrel and Scripture series as I cannot think of anything more difficult for my ADHD brain than the sustained focus sometimes required to pray.
The good news prayer comes in many forms as do distraction. These 5 strategies are sure to help – whether you have an attention disorder or not!
Here are some of my tried and true methods for conversing with God even when I am completely out of focus.
Walk and Talk
Two years ago the Holy Spirit put this crazy inspiration on my heart to get my butt outside to pray the Rosary. Uncomfortable walking the streets alone (hello, anxiety), I decided to encircle my home.
This was made easy, in my mind anyway, because I live on a fork-in-the-road and have a driveway that connects the two streets running parallel to my home. I am only on grass when I traverse my backyard. Around and around I go, praying the rosary, talking with God, the Blessed Mother, my Guardian Angel and whoever else in Heaven (or Purgatory) will listen.
The practice has become so much more than I ever anticipated it to be. The exercise has helped me drop some weight. The lack of distractions (ie phone, computer, housework) has made for some of the most connected prayer times ever. There have been more than a few explained “wow” moments involving passing cars, butterflies and even Mack Trucks!
Chores and Pray
Laundry is a drag. Dishes are gross. Vacuuming hurts my back.
I am Little Miss Positive … usually, but not when it comes to housekeeping. Martha of Bethany I am not! However, there is one simple change I made many years ago that transformed these disdained tasks to opportunities for grace.
While I am folding laundry, I pray for the person who belongs to those pants, onesie or sock. Is it just me or do onesies multiple in the dryer? Maybe they are eating all the socks?
As I fold the 100th towel for the week, I pray in gratitude that I have water with which to shower and the blessing of children and a hubby to use them.
The Psalms lend themselves perfectly to prayer. Sometimes I will just read a chapter until a verse seems to be speaking to me. To help me stay focused on it, I will grab a highlighter or pen and mark my bible.
By the way, it is totally not sacrilege to underline your favorite passage or make a note to recall why YOU underlined it! In addition, I usually keep a journal nearby as well. Writing my thoughts during prayer time also works wonders to squelch my wandering attention.
Sacramentals and Statues
Religious paraphernalia gets such a bad rap. Honestly, I do not worship my Pope Francis Bobblehead nor bow before my Padre Pio prayer card.
I place various images of my favorite saints, as well as Jesus and Mary, around your home as reminders and as focal points for prayer. Gazing upon the crucifix aids my mind to shut out the world and focus on Jesus.
Bag of Tricks
Perhaps not a bag in my case it is a basket, and not exactly tricks, more like tools. On my coffee table is a basket filled with daily devotionals, prayer cards, and various beads (Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, St. Michael Chaplet).
This is left out where it can serve as a reminder (see a pattern here), as well as provide me with plenty of spiritual resources to reach for on those days my prayer well has run dry.
Two of my favorite books always residing within this basket are The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion (Ave Maria Press) and Day by Day for the Holy Souls in Purgatory(OSV).
I am blessed to be a 7-time contributor to the Prayer Companion, along with 80 other talented writers. The reflections are short, insightful and include a question to ponder after my prayer time. Although I did feel a little as if I am talking to myself when it is time for one of my reflections.
The other book by the sweet Susan Tassone contains prayers and reflections on Purgatory. When I received the book from Susan last year, I decided to add the name of a deceased person on each day. After the first year of praying, I realized not only could I not stop now but I needed to keep adding names for each day. I am presently at 5 names per page. What a blessing this practice has been.
Prayer is Simply a Conversation with God
Prayer does not need to be long winded and/or complicated.
If we follow St. Paul’s advice and pray without ceasing, we will find there are so many opportunities throughout our day to talk with God. That, after all, is what prayer is all about – a conversation with God.
It is easy with any conversation to lose track of what is being said or even to grow weary. Yet, with a little creativity and a little extra effort, prayer can be found and sustained in every day of life.