A study from Harvard University found the average person’s mind wanders about 47% of the time… so often, when we’re completing one task, our brain is off thinking about something else.

People tend to struggle with distraction, especially when doing a more “internal” task like prayer. You find yourself talking to God one minute, and the next, you’ve finished your meal plan for the week… what?!

Adding a physical component to your prayer practice can not only keep you more grounded and focused on the conversation with God, but many elements of an embodied prayer life have existed for centuries in Christianity, with even older practices being found in Old Testament prayer.

Here are a few ideas to try, if you’re interested in practicing prayer with your whole body.


Visit a Prayer Labyrinth

A labyrinth isn’t the same thing as a maze– it’s not something to escape, and there’s no way to get lost. Instead, it’s a physical representation of our Christian life, as we walk slowly and draw nearer to Christ in the center. A clear path eliminates distractions and gives us a set-aside space to reflect and pray. Many churches and Christian contemplative centers have one on their premises. A quick online search can help you find one in your community, or you can try making a simple pathway in your own backyard.


Change Postures: stand, sit, kneel

Switching the posture of our bodies during prayer can help us refocus our attention, as well as connect our bodies to our minds as we’re making specific petitions and thanksgivings to God. Traditionally, standing during prayer has been used during praise and worship, while kneeling has been an act of confession and humility. Seated is often a posture used to seek guidance, wisdom, or peace. Another common posture is having open hands to receive from the Lord. Try offering prayers in different postures and see what works best for you!


Light a Scented Candle

Scents are deeply connected to our memories, and can instantly transport us back to certain times or places. Some like to have specific candles or scents set aside for prayers, helping to signal to our brains that it’s time to connect with God, and to act as a physical reminder of God’s presence during this time. Get extra prayer points for using scents found in the Bible like frankincense or myrrh. (Okay, extra points don’t exist, but it’s still kind of a neat practice). 


Try Breath Prayers

If you find it hard to focus during lengthy prayers, Breath Prayer is a way of aligning your breathing with a short prayer or psalm, in order to slow you down and draw you closer to God. You only need a line or two of scripture to help ground and comfort you in the truths of his nearness and his love. Try a line that speaks into your particular season of life, maybe something like: (breathe in) “The Lord is my Shepherd…” (breathe out) “I have all that I need…” (based on Psalm 23).


Use Tactile Helpers: a stone, beads, etc.

Many different Christian denominations use tactile reminders to help them pray. Utilizing something physical, like beads or stones, during prayer can help us memorize different scriptures or prayers, and act as a tool to draw our mind back to God when it might otherwise wander. Plus, having something to touch and carry can act as a physical reminder of God’s presence with us throughout the day— something that helps many with fear and anxiety.