Improve Your ADHD Brain's Focus While Praying

One common tip given in ADHD books for maintaining a healthy lifestyle when one has ADHD is "spirituality." For many, this politically correct term means praying. However, the symptoms of ADHD can make one wonder: Is it even possible to pray when you have ADHD? 

If an ADHDer wants to use prayer as a tool for maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyle, it can be frustrating to get started because focusing while praying is hard. There are some thing that can be done to mitigate distractibility in prayer. I will try to keep these tips as general as possible, so people of all faith backgrounds can find them useful.

 

Self-care

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If you are not taking your medication (if you and your doctor have determined medication is right for you), getting plenty of exercise, and eating healthy foods, you will not be able to focus in prayer. The same things you need to focus in other areas of life apply to prayer (and, yes, this means fidget toys are acceptable to use while praying).

 

Relax

Take a deep breath, or try some other relaxation techniques. If a person is relaxed, it will be much easier for the mind to concentrate. 

 

Location, Location, Location

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The first thre rules of real estate also apply to prayer. It will be easier to pray in a chapel than it will be to pray in a subway station. Find a quiet, secluded place for prayer time. If you can't get to a physical church building every time you want to pray, try designating a quiet spot in your house as your prayer spot. Be sure to avoid making you prayer spot the same spot where you do work or sleep. This should be a special place that will not remind you of any other responsibilities or make you want to sleep.

 

Images

Choose a place to pray that has visual reminders of the divine. These images can be of anything that brings your mind to prayer. They can be religious painitngs from the Renaissance or scenes of nature. Whatever it is, make sure it is something that draws you deeper into prayer.

If you can put this images in your prayer corner at home, great! If not, carry them with you to places where you know you will be praying. 

 

Music

Music can, not only calm the mind, but also bring one deeper into prayer. Generally speaking, rap/hiphop songs will not enhance one's prayer experience, but the music chosen to aid in prayer does not have to be hymns or Christian rock songs. Many classical pieces were written with religious themes or for the specific intent to be used in religious ceremonies. The same goes for Gregorian chant. A quick search on YouTube will yield plenty of music written with the specific intent of helping others pray.

 

Pray out loud

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If no one else is around, pray out loud. In my personal experience, praying out loud has helped me focus while praying. Granted, there are not many opportunities to do this, but when they are there, take them.

 

Pray while exercising

I cannot think of a single religion that prohibits praying while exercising. I am sure there probably is an obscure religion that does, but I know many Christians encourage unitng one's spiritual practices with one's exercise practices. There are even classes and videos that teach others how to do so. However, praying and exercising can simply mean talking to God while going for a run.

 

Reflect on Scriptures

A common spiritual practice is reading the Bible or other sacred scriptures. These texts are not meant to be simply read and memorized. They are meant to be absorbed and chewed over. Check with the spiritual leaders of your religious tradition for guidance on how to do so. In my faith tradition, there is a practice of praying with scriptures called "Lectio Divina." A simple description of it is reading a scripture passage and meditating over it, focusing on a word, phrase, or element that particularly struck you. I have found this to be a particularlry effective method of prayer for me and my ADHD. If I can place myself in a scripture passage, my mind can let loose, so to speak, and explore the scene and what is being conveyed through the passage with which I'm praying. For more information on Lectio Divina, there are plenty of resources that can be found using a simple Google search.

 

Use a Prayer journal

Using a journal while praying can help organize one's thoughts and guide where one goes in prayer. Prayer journal entries can be a letter to God, a list of prayer intentions, or a record of what has occurred while you were praying (what you said in prayer, how you felt, where you feel you are being called, etc.). It is also useful to look back on your prayer journal to see where you have been in your faith life and note the progress you made or remind yourself of spiritual goals you once set.

 

Persevere

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The most important spiritual practice is persevering. Yes, you will have many dry prayer experiences, but  that does not mean you should give up or that God does not love you. You need to keep trying. Spiritual growth occurs most often in baby steps, not giant leaps. Do not give up. The simple act of returning one's focus to prayer can be a prayer in and of itself. here's a quote I return to when my lack of focus in prayer gets me down:

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”
–St. Francis de Sales

 

Today's Reset ADHD Challenge:

Persevere in prayer