Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Here’s how conversation works: Something pops into your mind and you say to the person with whom you are spending time, “You know what I was just thinking . . .”

Now prayer is conversation – conversation with God. It is a common thing for people to say that they are distracted in prayer. They are trying to make a holy hour or pay attention at Mass or pray the rosary and their mind wanders off. There can be a number of reasons for this but the one most overlooked is that perhaps it is a conversation that God is looking to have with you. Something has popped into a person’s mind and they spend a great deal of time and energy thinking, “Don’t think about that! Back to REAL prayer.” But it may be the case that the thing by which you are distracted is crying out for attention.

If this happens to be the case for you try this: First acknowledge the distraction. “Okay, this thing is on my mind – let me analyze very quickly what it is.” Then present it to God. “God, I am trying to pay attention to (whatever) but this keeps popping up and obviously I need your help with it.” If that brings you some relief then thank God and gently and simply return to the planned prayer.

It may be the case that God is trying to tell you something at that point. So hold in tension the prayer that you are participating in and also listen to what God may be trying to tell you. If some sort of answer comes, then thank God and then gently and simply return to the planned prayer.

If it is a continual and complete distraction something else may be going on. When the distraction is the problem and not a problem present that to God. “God I need help being distracted from having a real conversation with you – from real prayer with you because I am too distracted by worldly things. Help me.” Then always gently return to authentic prayer numerous time if necessary – but always gently. The more upset you become the worse the problem will be. If this does not help after a spell then you may need a spiritual director to guide you.

But at all times remember that you having a conversation and building a relationship with God. He wants you to share what is going on in your life. Formal prayer is very important and worthwhile but so is informal prayer. It is a text message to God – a quick phone call – a note in His lunch pail that says, “Thinking of you during my day.” We need both. Perhaps many a distraction occurs when there is an imbalance in the ratio and a distraction is sometimes a corrective attempt at conversation (talking and listening) by God with you.

1 comment:

Cracked Pot said...

Extrememly helpful and very practical. Thank you, Father. This information alone is "spiritual direction" for me.