“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald
Staying focused on God in today’s ever changing world is not easy. Life happens so fast in the 21st Century that if your cell phone is 12 months old it’s out of date!
Did you know this hectic rush of life we experience isn’t unique to our generation? Surprising, because how many times have you heard about “the good old days,” when life was slower and more simple?
While the above quote sounds like something our parents and grandparents probably didn’t experience, that is actually from the book, The Great Gatsby by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1925.
Even in the 1920’s, people’s lives were hurried, distracted and hectic.
Still, I’m fairly convinced that there have never been as many distractions in the life of a person as we have now. So how do we stay focused on God in the daily grind while so many things are competing for our attention?
Want to download this Bible study to help you stay focused on God? It’s my gift to you! Plus, you’ll get new posts when they happen, usually a few times each month.
Staying Focused on God
1. Begin the day with God
I know it sounds simple enough and it’s going to be one of the first suggestions you’ll find in any article like this, but that’s for good reason.
If you or I are going to stay focused on God, we have got to include the things of God in our daily lives!
You’ve probably heard that when something is repeated twice in the Bible it’s something to pay attention to, right? How about something that’s repeated 10 times in one teaching? That’s how many times Jesus used the word “abide” or “remain” in John 15:1-11!
Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in me.” He repeated that in 2 other ways in John 15:5-7 while also providing a stark warning and a vast promise:
“Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
Staying focused on God requires abiding in Him. I know your mornings are rushed, but if you create the discipline to spend the first minutes of your day reading the Word of God and talking to Him about the day ahead, you will have a greater focus on Him throughout the day.
If you don’t know where to start, try reading John 15:1-11 each morning for a week. It won’t take long and the passage is crazy profound.
2. Remain in prayer
Do you want to create and develop the habit of a prayerful life? 1 Thessalonians 5:17 makes one simple yet bold command: “pray without ceasing.”
This is a habit worth developing and isn’t as difficult as you might think. Plus, prayer has a way of changing lives.
When you see or hear a news report that bothers you, pray for the people and the situation. When you come across someone that annoys you or tries your patience, silently pray for them. When you hear of someone facing some problem, large or small…pray for them.
We had a friend that taught her children about staying focused on God by offering up a quick prayer every time they heard the sirens of a police car, ambulance or fire truck.
God doesn’t need your eloquent, long-winded pious sounding discourses, laced with “thees, thous” and “almighties.” He wants your heart, and often in prayer that sounds as simple as “God, help!“
3. Limit the distractions
In the post 3 Ways to Having More Faith, I wrote that we have to keep a clear space between us and God. You can’t keep your eyes on what you can’t see, physically or spiritually.
In Joshua 3:4, the people of Israel are commanded to keep a distance of 2,000 cubits between them and the ark of the covenant. That’s about a half of a mile and the purpose was so the people of Israel would always be able to see the ark in all types of terrain that they were traveling through.
In our spiritual lives, when we fill the spaces with all kinds of conveniences and distractions, it becomes very difficult and even impossible sometimes to see where the Lord is leading us.
We can overcome this by limiting the distractions, the busyness and our own lack of discipline by making a conscious effort to keep our Lord in the number one spot in our lives.
4. Serve God
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
You’ve heard that verse. You’ve probably also heard the term mammon in place of money at the end of it.
Though “mammon” was a word that primarily represented money and possessions, it was also used to refer to lusts of all types.
If you’re serving God with your resources of time, energy, talents, and with your money, then staying focused on God will naturally follow.
5. Remove sin from your life
This could have been the first point in the list.
What I mean by this is to remove the habitual, continuous sinful habits and patterns from your life.
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us.”
If there is something, someone, some place or anything in your life that leads you away from God in any way, or that keeps you out of prayer, away from fellowship with other believers or distracts you from reading your Bible, you have one option: remove that thing from your life.
Staying focused on God or growing in your spiritual, prayer, or Christian life in any way with any habitual sin in your life is next to impossible. Kill the sin or it will kill you spiritually, physically, or both.
Kill sin or it will kill you spiritually, physically, or both.Click To Tweet
Running the Marathon
It’s been said countless times that life is a marathon, not a sprint. When staying focused on God, this becomes especially evident.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us that “We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up,” and the next verse tells us how to do that: “We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2).
Taking these 5 steps and making them daily habits will deepen your spiritual life and they will help when staying focused on God.
Suggested resources for staying focused on God
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Staying focused on God can be a difficult task, even for people who consider themselves very religious or spiritual. Family, work, and entertainment are just a few of the things that often distract people from their walk with God. Thankfully, you can learn to focus on God without neglecting your other important responsibilities. Prioritize your relationship with God by setting spiritual goals for yourself, spending some time with God every day, and living by the tenets of your faith.
Method 1 Evaluating Your Life
- Think about your current relationship with God.
Sit down when you have a quiet moment and evaluate the current state of your spiritual life. Be humble and honest with yourself. Ask yourself whether you incorporate your faith into your everyday routine, whether you use your faith to guide your decisions, and whether you feel close to God.
- Don’t be discouraged if you discover that your spiritual life needs some work. The point of this exercise is simply to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are right now.
- Evaluate what is distracting you from God.
Ask yourself which aspects of your life are pulling you farther away from God. External pressures and responsibilities, such as work, school, and relationships, are common distractions. Don’t forget to consider internal distractions as well, like pride or materialism.
- For instance, if your pride drives you to try to solve all your problems without any help, you might have a hard time turning to God for guidance.
- Seek guidance from a trusted person of faith.
Whatever your spiritual or religious affiliation, it can help to get advice from a leader. This person can help you identify barriers that are blocking you from deepening your relationship with God. Alternatively, they may also be able to help you see that you are actually doing quite well in your current spiritual practice.
- Go to a trusted member of your spiritual community and explain your dilemma. Ask them how you can improve your focus on God and your spirituality.
- Devise a plan to deepen your faith.
Think about how you would like to maintain or improve your relationship with God. Set some spiritual goals for yourself. Think about what you want your relationship with God to look like in a month or a year. Then think about how you can change your habits to make it happen.
- For instance, if you want to feel closer to God on a day-to-day basis, you could establish the habit of praying for a few minutes every morning.
Method 2 Making Time for God
- Make time for your faith every day.
Putting in a little bit of effort on a regular basis can help you stay connected to God all the time. Set aside some time for your spiritual practice every day. Take this time just as seriously as any of your other important appointments.
- For instance, you could use your lunch hour to read faith-based texts, or you could set aside half an hour for prayer and reflection before bed. You may even go so far as to writing your spiritual practices into your schedule like any other obligation to make sure you stick to them.
- Many people like to make their spiritual practice part of their morning routine. Spending time with God first thing in the morning can give you a positive foundation for the rest of the day.
- Block out distractions.
Commit your full attention to your spiritual practice. Go somewhere you won’t be distracted to pray, read, and reflect. Take a deep breath and set aside your worries and distractions while you deepen your relationship with God.
- Read your religious texts.
Connect with God by reading and thinking about your sacred texts. Mark the passages that resonate with you, and spend extra time reflecting on them. Look for ideas and themes in your sacred texts that you can apply to your own life.
- Reading books by religious leaders and scholars may also help you deepen your faith and your understanding of God.
Praying daily is one of the most effective things you can do to get closer to God. Prayer is very personal, and you can pray about anything. Try using your prayer time to ask for guidance and inspiration, to affirm your personal faith, or to pray for your loved ones.
- You can pray anytime and anywhere. However, it’s still a good idea to set aside a specific time for prayer every day, so you won’t feel rushed or distracted.
- Reflect on God.
As you observe the world every day, let the things you see guide your thoughts towards God. When you feel moved by something, take a moment to ponder what it tells you about the nature of God and your personal relationship with God.
- As your faith grows, you might find God reflected in many different aspects of life, including art, the natural world, and other people.
Method 3 Living Faithfully
- Talk with friends and family who share your beliefs.
Find other people with whom you can share your spiritual journey. Discuss things like how you incorporate your faith into your everyday life and how you avoid getting distracted by worldly issues.
- If you don’t know anyone who shares your beliefs, work on making some new friends at your place of worship, or search the internet for likeminded groups of people.
- Attend religious services.
Keep your beliefs strong by participating in the services and traditions of your faith. Visiting your place of worship regularly will help you stay connected to your spiritual community, as well as to God.
- Use your faith to guide your choices.
Throughout your life, you’ll be faced with decisions, big and small. Before you make a decision, think carefully about which actions will help you achieve your spiritual goals and live by the tenets of your faith. Whenever you can, make choices that bring you closer to God.
- Prayer can help you make good choices when you’re faced with difficult decisions.
- Find ways to serve your community.
Helping other people is a great way to grow in your faith and get closer to God. Look for local volunteer opportunities that reflect the values that are most important to you.
- You may be able to find volunteer opportunities through your place of worship.
Method 4 Coping with Issues that Distract Your Focus
- Prioritize your faith, but be flexible in your methods.
Even if your faith is your top priority in life, you may have to accept that there will be times when you don’t have as much time to observe your spiritual practices. When such times occur, be easy on yourself. Try to carve out as much time as you can, but you may have to get creative.
- For instance, if an overloaded schedule keeps you from attending a worship service, you might listen to a podcast or video while commuting to work.
- If you generally dedicate an hour in the morning and evening for prayer and worship, you might have to cut these down to half an hour during busy weeks.
- Lean on your faith during personal tragedies.
Going through a traumatic event such as abuse or the loss of a child may threaten your faith in God. You might ask “Why me?” or wonder why bad things happen to good people. During these times, rather than questioning why things happened a certain way, seek out a deeper connection and understanding with God to help get you through.
- You might take on a spiritual adviser, receive religious counseling, or study scripture to glean understanding from your situation.
- Religious and spiritual beliefs tend to help people heal faster, so lean on your faith during such times. You may find that on the other side you become more focused on God than ever before.
- Reflect on your faith when you feel unworthy.
There may come a time when you make a mistake in life that doesn’t align with your spiritual or religious views. You may then become distant from God because you are ashamed. Know that most faiths acknowledge and understand that you are not perfect, and that you never will be. Be willing to forgive yourself so that God can forgive you, too.
- Seek out guidance from someone in your faith. Explain to them what happened–maybe you were unfaithful in your relationship or you drank alcohol in excess. Then, ask for recommendations on how you can forgive yourself and feel worthy again.
- Don’t allow others to dictate your beliefs.
It can be difficult to follow your spiritual practices when those closest to you oppose them. Others can make you feel ashamed about your faith in God, or they may try to discount the validity of your beliefs. You may have to make a choice between keeping these people in your life, or letting them go. Talk it over with someone you trust before making a decision.
- If your family members disagree with your beliefs, you might simply avoid discussing your views around them. Or, if they seem open-minded you might try to compassionately share your views.
- If a friend or coworker opposes your faith, you might choose to end the relationship, especially if their presence in your life is distracting you from your faith.
Add New Question
I know God will never leave or forsake us, but what should I do when it feels like God is quiet no matter how much I pray?
This is when you need to be strong and steadfast in your faith. Although God won’t answer your prayers straight away, bear in mind that He is working on a plan for you. You just have to trust that He is guiding you even in His silence.
How can I help my daughter to know Christ as her Savior?
All you can do is guide her. I know it’s hard when you see a loved one struggling with faith, but only God can change the person’s heart. Try reading a devotional or a Bible verse every morning with her. Go to church, and if she’s old enough, let her go to youth group there. Support her through her journey, and try not to judge her beliefs or opinions. If you disagree, tell her so in a gentle way; if not, she will only harbor more anger and slowly distance herself. Try reading ‘Leading Your Child To Christ’ By Marty Machowski. It details sharing the word with your child, and how to maintain a Christian household.
How do I tell friends who are sinning to consider repentance without them feeling judged?
We can never really tell anyone anything about sinning or repentance, as it’s a very touchy topic. We can however, live by example and practice what we preach; this is the most effective way of helping our friends understand the importance of the love of God. Seeing you with the inner peace the Holy Spirit gives will motivate them to live as you do and inquire more about the beauty of living in the embrace of God.
What can l do when my soul loses focus on God due to pornography?
Pray and ask for his forgiveness. Maybe go to confession too, and/or talk to a priest, pastor, etc. about your struggles. As long as you’re repenting your sins and trying to do better, God will forgive you.
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Categories: Faith and Belief
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Español: mantenerte enfocado en Dios, Português: se Manter Focado em Deus, Français: rester concentré sur Dieu
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by Fia Curley
Bills, to-do lists, upcoming field trips, work demands. There’s a lot vying for people’s attention these days. There are so many reasons to pray, and, at times, the things we’re praying about can be the same things distracting us from our prayers.
Prayer is a great privilege, and at the same time, a fierce struggle, and a powerful miracle of the Spirit, who helps us in our weakness, particularly when it comes to staying focused in prayer.
In a recent poll on our Facebook page, many of our followers identified the challenge of staying focused as a hindrance to their times of prayer.
Prayer was never meant to be duty-based, or merely results-oriented. Rather, it is the place of encounter with God, where our spirit is energized as we grow to love Him more. It positions us to love God and people by receiving God’s love. It also releases His blessing on our circumstances, and results in real changes in the Church, the nations, and society, as well as in the lives of our loved ones. Truly, “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (Jas. 5:16).
Although many may have the desire to pray, encountering stray thoughts, upset feelings, and legitimate distractions make it a challenge to stay focused. When we remember God wants us to pray, we are encouraged to persist in the place of prayer.
The God of the universe wants us to connect with His heart in deep partnership. Therefore, asking God for everything is a foundational principle of the kingdom. We must specifically ask, not just think about our need with frustration and desperation.
“In everything by prayer . . . let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).
Only through a lifestyle of prayer can we receive the fullness of what God has provided for us. A prayer list helps brings all our requests together. It is an essential tool to help maintain focus during your prayer times, especially when you feel tired or distracted.
If you use two simple tools—scheduling prayer times on your calendar and creating prayer lists—you will find that you pray so much more, and that you stay more focused when you pray.
Your prayers aren’t limited to what’s on your list, but instead the prayer list acts as a guide to help “jump start” your prayer time and help you maintain your focus.
How to Develop a Prayer List
When developing a prayer list, it is helpful to consider these three themes:
- The gifts of the Spirit—God’s power and favor being released
- The fruit of the Spirit—God’s character formed in us or others
- The wisdom of the Spirit—God’s mind or the spirit of revelation imparted
We ask for the gifts, fruit, and wisdom of the Spirit to be released in each prayer focus:
Intimacy: We focus on giving our love and devotion to God. This type of prayer includes worship, meditation on the Word (pray-reading it), and fellowshipping with the Spirit.
Personal petition: We ask for God’s blessing on our personal life and ministry. We pray for breakthrough for our inner man (heart), circumstances (physical, financial, relational), and ministry, that God’s power would be released through our hands, words, and deeds.
Intercession: We ask for God’s power or justice for others.
- Prayer for people and places—family and friends, individuals in ministries, business, and government—and for the destiny of ministries, cities, and nations (e.g., missions organizations, Jerusalem, Egypt, etc.)
- Prayer for strategic issues in society: government (elections, abortion), oppression (human trafficking, harsh regimes), natural disasters (hurricanes, droughts), diseases, etc.
Here are a couple of prayer lists to help you get started:
- Ten Prayers to Strengthen Our Inner Man: F-E-L-L-O-W-S-H-I-P »
- Fellowshipping with the Spirit: T-R-U-S-T »
Find further inspiration for developing your prayer life in Mike Bickle’s latest book, Growing in Prayer: A Real-Life Guide to Talking with God »
Fia Curley served on the NightWatch at IHOPKC for many years, participating in prayer, worship, and intercession from midnight to 6am. Currently attending college in New York, she enjoys blending her passion for prayer, worship, and journalism as she labors with the Lord to see His goodness revealed to families, government leaders, and immigrants from non-Christian nations.