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How Do I Avoid Impure Thoughts While Praying?


A listener named Drew calls into the show and asks, “How do I avoid impure thoughts while I’m praying?” Drew explains that sometimes while in prayer, his mind wanders off and goes to impure thoughts. He tries to shut it out and avoid the temptation, but wonders if he is doing something wrong.

Father Dave suggests paying attention to the distractions and not separating them from prayer. “Look at the distractions,” he says, “Even if we consider them sinful distractions, sometimes, distractions are just busyness, impure thoughts, angry thoughts, revenge or greed. Any other ways in which they are not merely distractions, they push past to the realm of sin. One approach would be to not look at them as something separate from your prayer. Like ‘Here’s my prayer and this is interrupting it’ … If we shift and think of it rather as, ‘This is genuinely me and I’m coming before God,’ to actually include those in my prayer. So instead of saying, ‘Satan get away’ how about ‘Lord, I need your help with this.’”

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Father Dave points out that it’s important to be honest about this distraction or temptation with God instead of pretending that it’s not happening. He relates it to a marriage in which spouses want to know what is on the heart of one another. God, too, wants us to bring to him what’s on our hearts, both good and bad.

“That’s the moment that we should be honest with God, and we should say, ‘Boy, this has really been a struggle for me lately. What can I do about this, God?’ And listen for an answer. Maybe there’s not an immediate answer, maybe it’s not obvious, and maybe God doesn’t make you instantly pure and without sin, but what God desires is just our desire to be there. … The fact that we have a desire to be in relationship with God is already in itself pleasing to God. And we presume the opposite. We presume that because we are not 100 percent perfect, that we’re failing, and God is upset with us, when in fact, it’s the other way around.” (Original Air 3-26-18)