Prayer and ADHDers (and other people who struggle with traditional prayer)

Disclaimer: my ADHD is self-diagnosed(I’ve done the research and it runs in my family) and these are just my thoughts and what works for me. ADHD presents differently for everyone so some of this may not be accurate for you. If you have questions or a different experience, put it in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.

Traditional Prayer and Its Issues

I was taught as a kid that you pray with your eyes closed and your hand folded. It had to be a specific special time for just you and God. It felt like it had to be perfect. So, I spent most of my childhood praying impersonal but “perfect” prayers. 

This structured, perfect prayer just didn’t work for me. I never kept up with it when my parents weren’t telling me to. And when they were, it wasn’t bringing me any closer to God.

This kind of prayer just doesn’t work for everyone. For people with ADHD, this is often because we struggle with sitting still and focusing. This is also a struggle for people who don’t have much time to dedicate to praying. Having to dedicate specific time to prayer can also cause us to forget to “pray without ceasing”(1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

Non-Traditional Prayer

Prayer Walks

One way to combat this is prayer walks. There’s no sitting still, and you can fidget all you want. The constant movement can also help with focus. For me, being outside and in nature helps me connect with God, so if you can walk somewhere with nature, that’s a bonus! Plus, it’s good exercise. 

Praying Without Ceasing

Another alternative is “praying without ceasing”, which the Bible actually tells us to do(1 Thessalonians 5:18). This is less about being in constant prayer in the traditional sense and more about making praying more like a mindset.

For me, praying without ceasing is constantly sending up smaller prayers to God. See a beautiful flower? Thank God for it. Someone is sick? Right then and there, go ahead and ask God to help them. I have a habit of forgetting to pray about things, so praying in the moment is helpful for me. 

It doesn’t have to be a long or detailed prayer, especially since you might have other things happening. Just a quick “Thank you, God” or “Lord, help them,” works. 

Another way this can work is praying while doing a mundane task. Long drive? Use the time to pray. Folding laundry? Pray. 

It’s just a simple way to keep connected to God throughout the day, especially if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.

Prayer Journaling

Now for my personal favorite, prayer journaling. As a writer, I organize my thoughts best by writing or typing them out, and that applies to my prayer life as well. Writing helps me keep focus and organize my prayers. That doesn’t mean my prayer journal prayers make any sense to the average person though. 

Typing feels a bit less personal to me(emphasis on “to me”, if typing prayers works for you go for it!) when it comes to prayer, so I handwrite mine. The downside is that takes quite a long time. I don’t worry about my handwriting; no one else is going to see it anyway. I often leave a bunch of words out and make up weird abbreviations to save time. I’ve ended up with pages that look like they’re written in another language. It’s like I have my own language with God in my prayer journal. 

The benefits of journaling are talked about a lot. Getting your thoughts out on paper is supposed to do all sorts of stuff for your mental health. From my experience, prayer journaling can do all of that plus the added spiritual benefits. 

For those of us that need to do something with our hands to focus, writing out your prayers can be a great way to help with that. 

I got really into it around the beginning of my relationship with God, and it was super helpful for me to write all that stuff out. I’d do it every night and that was what really got me connecting to God. That pace wasn’t sustainable for me, though, so now I prayer journal around once a week whenever I feel led to it.

Prayer is for You and God

In conclusion, it’s okay if traditional prayer doesn’t work for you or if you just need something to spice up your prayer life. There are plenty of alternatives you can try out.

What matters most is that you follow where God is leading you and you’re connecting with Him. It’s your relationship with God, not anyone else’s, so you do whatever works for you and Him.

4 thoughts on “Prayer and ADHDers (and other people who struggle with traditional prayer)

  1. Great post, Lyra! I enjoyed seeing your perspective. I, too, struggle with ‘traditional praying.’ It’s merely because verbally expressing how I feel is a struggle for me, so praying journaling is much easier for me. I’ve done it off and on, but as of recently, I’ve been more consistent and it’s been SO fruitful. I feel like I can not only focus on what I’m praying about, but it helps me to not focus on trying to appear ‘perfect’ before God, and instead share my heart with Him. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it definitely helps with the perfectionism as well! It’s been a struggle for me to learn to share my heart and make it a relationship since I was taught basically “how to make the perfect prayer” as a kid. Praying in front of people is still a huge struggle for me because of that. I have either “pour out everything” as I’ve learned in my prayer journaling and stuff, or “pray perfectly and apathetically” and neither of them feel right in front of people.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for this Lyra!!! I don’t have ADHD but, I am autistic. Many times I can’t figure out how to get my thoughts into words and then think that I can’t pray because of that (or I’m a perfectionist…). Often I forget that God knows my every thought and that I don’t have to have an elaborate prayer. I’m pretty bad at journaling but, I think I might try it again but, make it a prayer journal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to hear that this helped you! Getting thoughts into words is definitely a huge issue for me, which is why journaling has helped so much. And it doesn’t matter if you’re any good at it, it’s just for you and God, so as long as it’s bringing you closer to him, you’re doing great!

      Like

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