How shall we remedy our wandering thoughts in prayer?
1. We must wait upon God for the power of his grace.
As long as his love and grace are powerful in us, we are kept in a lively, heavenly frame. As this abates, the soul swerves, and returns to vanity and sin.
2. Meditate upon the greatness of God.
It is of great consequence with whom we are dealing. O if you could see him that is invisible, you would have more reverence! Imagine yourself in heaven in the midst of the blessed angels standing before the all-seeing God. O with what reverence, with what fear, should a poor worm creep into his presence!
3. Seek to mortify the lusts that are apt to draw away your minds.
What thoughts are we pestered with when we come to God? One vile affection will hinder our praying.
4. Prepare for prayer.
Take note of the impediments that distract you, and put off carnal distractions. Resolve to shut your heart against God’s enemy and direct it only to God.
5. Focus on your purpose.
Watch against the first temptation to divert our attention no matter how reasonable it seems. The devil’s policy is to cheat us of the present duty by an unreasonable distraction. He does not begin by casting in a thought of blasphemy; that would make us quake and shake. He begins with reasonable thoughts. Be careful to avoid them. Do not even dispute with the diversion, but despise it.
6. Develop spiritual affections.
You will find it more delightful to converse with God. Is there any better company than God’s when we seek our soul’s good?
7. Consider the weight of responsibility.
Are we not dealing with life and death issues?
8. Promote solemn meditation in the things of God.
As a man entertains truth in his heart, he will be ready in word and affection to avoid so frequent distractions.
Thomas Manton, Puritan Sermons 1659-1689, I:410-415