How to Pray When You Have ADHD

Photo by Lua Valentia on Unsplash

Having ADHD can make life difficult at the best of times, but when it comes to prayer, the ADHD can make it feel impossible. My mind wanders all over the place, my body wanders all over the place, and two minutes later, suddenly I find myself cleaning the bathroom or writing a grocery list instead of praying (sorry, God). Here are some things that I’ve found work for me in my own life when I’m struggling to sit still and focus during prayer.

  1. Do a walking prayer.

No one said you have to be sitting to pray. Take a walk out in nature and listen intently to the sound of the wind, the leaves, the birds, and anything else you hear. Do you hear the stillness? Let God come to meet you there.

2. Learn Taizé chants or traditional songs.

Taizé chants come from the French Catholic tradition, and are meant to draw us into the Presence of God through repeated lines of melody and imagery. You can find some traditional Taizé chants here (credits to Dodong Arnoza):

3. Use a fidget.

Yes, you read that right. If fidgets help you at work or school, why not in prayer? As a Catholic, I find rosaries immensely useful. The beads have different textures and sizes, and work really well to pull my mind back to prayer when it goes off in pursuit of a ricocheting idea. Your faith tradition might have another kind of prayer aid – do some research and see what you can find!

4. Use a candle.

Many ADHD brains are able to detect tiny changes in the environment. For some of us, that means light and movement. Light a candle in a safe place, and set a timer so you don’t forget to blow it out. When your mind wanders in prayer, guide it back to the light and flickering motion of the flame.

5. Use sacred images or icons.

If your faith tradition has religious art (paintings, sculptures, mosaics, etc.), find a piece that speaks to you and spend a few moments contemplating it. Allow it to guide your thoughts back to resting in God’s presence.

6. Ask God to show you how He wants you to communicate with Him.

How do you hear His voice most clearly? If you don’t know yet, that’s okay! God made you, and He knows how you think, how you react to things, and how you experience the world. Ask Him to show you how to pray – not how everyone else prays, but how you were designed to pray.

This list isn’t exhaustive, and there are many more prayer forms I haven’t included here. Which forms of prayer help you? Is prayer something you struggle with? Leave a comment below!

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