I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.Psalm 17:6
We’re human, so it’s only natural that we find ourselves distracted while we pray from time to time (or often), but that’s okay! Every time I pray, it isn’t long before I get distracted by something in the room, a persistent thought, or a nagging item on my to-do list. Regardless, I acknowledge that the Lord has called me to pray at this moment. He deserves my attention as I deepen my relationship with him, and I commit to doing the best that I can at that moment.
We can’t wait until we’re in the most perfect state of mind to pray, otherwise, we’ll never pray! When it comes to prayer, we’re called to show up, do our best, and allow the Holy Spirit to help us and Mary to make our prayers perfect for God. We can’t avoid getting distracted during prayer completely, but there are a few ways to cope with it.
Holding something, like a rosary, a chaplet, or a medal can keep us centered and help us to concentrate on the prayer at hand. Holding rosary beads while you pray the rosary actually helps to take away distractions because following along with the beads takes away the work of counting the prayers.
Looking at something or reading something can keep us going during prayer. Looking at icons and pictures or reading scripture or prayers can allow our minds to wander while staying in a prayerful state of mind. When I pray the rosary, I like to look at a picture that goes with each mystery to help me meditate on them more deeply.
Meditating on a mystery or reflecting on scripture can intensify prayer. Lectio Divina is a beautiful form of prayer that involves reflecting deeply on passages from the Bible, allowing God to reveal the meaning of the passage. Mental prayer strengthens our faith as it helps us contemplate it and learn more about it.
Praying with friends can help you stay concentrated! Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” I like to pray the rosary or Lectio Divina with my friends because I find that I concentrate better and pray more deeply in a group. Get some friends together and grow in your faith together through prayer.
If you’re distractions are particularly persistent, turn them into prayers! The people and things that are on our hearts are there for a reason, so they’re worth praying about. While you pray, if someone keeps coming to mind, offer up a prayer for them! I keep these prayers brief but honest before I return to what I was doing, like this, “God, I’ve been thinking of my cousin a lot lately. Please bless her and keep her in your hands. Please remind her that she’s your beloved daughter.”
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St. Francis de Sales said, “If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence. And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour (of prayer) but bring your heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be well employed.” Even the act of bringing yourself back to prayer when you get distracted is a victory. We’ll never completely get rid of our distractions during prayer, but that shouldn’t discourage us from praying. It’s dealing with our distractions, not eradicating them, that will strengthen our prayer life and our faith. My prayer for you is that whatever distractions are on your heart, they won’t prevent you from praying.
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