I’ll be the first to admit I often block out God to take care of distractions. Shouldn’t that read, “block out distractions to listen to God”? It should. But honesty won’t allow me to make that claim often.
When I intercede for others, I can stay on track. I can easily block out distractions when I’m the speaker. But when I’m the listener, I’m overrun with incidental thoughts. They jump up and down for attention. I can’t keep them quiet or still.
So how do I practice crowd control with my thoughts? I distinguish between prayer chats and prayer conversations. I chat with God often during the day about everything from needing that parking place to blessing that person in the ambulance whizzing by. But serious conversations demand time, silence, and solitude.
Often I take a pen and paper into prayertime with me. When an incidental thought interferes, I quickly jot it down. It’s gone, and later in the day, I can tend to those interruptions.
I practice centering prayer—repeating a short phrase that focuses my mind on God (e.g., “Jesus, hear my prayer”).