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Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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How to Pray with ADHD

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Christians with neurodivergence are exploring other options for devotions and Bible study.

Emily Hubbard recalls a trend in women’s discipleship that urged women to rest in Jesus and “stop trying to do it all.” The problem was, Hubbard wasn’t trying to do it all. She just wanted to remember to run the dishwasher.

“All discipleship was for type A people, but I was a type Z person,” she said.

Hubbard is a mother of four, a school board member, and an adjunct professor. Laziness isn’t her problem; attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is.

More than eight million US adults are affected by ADHD. Because the disorder impairs executive function—the self-control needed to work toward a goal—building habits for spiritual growth can be far more challenging for the ADHD brain than for someone who is neurotypical.

Lifeway Research found that nearly two-thirds of Protestant churchgoers intentionally spend time alone with God at least daily. Cru lists Bible reading, Bible study, Scripture memorization, and prayer as the top four spiritual disciplines that Christians should develop.

ADHD makes these kinds of repetitive tasks hard to maintain. Christians with ADHD may struggle to focus and get distracted when they sit down for an extended time of Bible reading and prayer. It can seem impossible for them to grow spiritually when the church around them views daily “quiet time” as a marker of discipline.

“For years, all I could do was go to church on Sundays and pray for my children at night, and that was my best,” Hubbard said. “Good thing Jesus died for my best.”

Like Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12), Hubbard says, she finds her ADHD is an abiding reminder that her performance doesn’t earn God’s approval. Her church, …

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