Posted by: everynation | January 9, 2009

How To Overcome Distractions When Praying

joey.jpgby Joey Bonifacio

I recently boarded the Qantas flight to Brisbane Australia to visit my friends in Citipointe Church.  The flight had a weird schedule.  It left Manila at 6:35PM and would arrive at 4:05 AM, Brisbane time.

Knowing the busyness of the week ahead I needed to gather my soul and find rest.  I have learned that the key to that is prayer.

Praying in a plane flying on coach is not an easy thing.  Naturally I did not want to show my seatmate and the other passengers that I was praying but I knew I needed a serious time of it.

I began by quietly whispering Psalm 23 which was fresh on my mind as I had just preached on it last Sunday.  My whispering worked very well as my seatmate and most of the others were fixed on the  screen in front of them and were wearing their headphones.

So I closed my eyes and began to whisper “the Lord is my shepherd…..” and started thinking of the Lord and how great He is (just as I had preached).  A few second into it and my mind started to wander into what I would be doing in Australia.

Normally I would be convicted and say :why am I so distracted”, instead I prayed for Australia and the work I would be doing, then I went on to pray for the pastors, leaders and members of the church.

A few minutes into it my seatmate a Filipina lady named Juliet started to realign her back and move about thereby distracting me once again, simultaneously the old lady behind me started crumpling some cellophane and caused me to lose my focus.  It was then that I shifted my prayer to Juliet and the lady behind, that they would one day meet the Lord.

A series of bumps on the plane and I was praying for the pilot and passengers.  Sensing a bit of danger I turned my prayers to my wife and children.  Then my thoughts turned to Manila and the work I was leaving behind and so my prayer turned yet another way.

Here’s the point, rather than allowing the devil to condemn me to think I am distracted I used these thoughts to signal me to pray for them instead.  As John Ortberg says: “It is far better to think of these wandering thoughts as stepping stones to prayer rather than as barriers”.

When my mind went blank I went back to Psalm 23 – and pictured the Lord making me lie in green pastures and drinking His still waters and my soul being restored.

By the time I got to the end of Psalm 23 I had been praying for over an hour and slept soundly on the plane.  Prayer always works – don’t let your distractions condemn you, instead keep on praying!

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Joey Bonifacio — aka “The Wizard of Blog” — is the senior pastor of VCF-Fort Bonifacio in Manila, Philippine and the author of Discipleship is Relationship and Joey’s Prayer Site.



  1. thanks, pastor joey! i’ll keep this in mind as i pray in the office esp. this P&F. :)

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