Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sometimes We Need a Little Help

There has been a breakthrough in my personal wall of ‘distracted prayer.’  I’ve found a door.  But can I describe it?  We’ll see.  This may not be all that easy, so I beg your patience as I try.

After reading a recent comment, I was hit with it.  I've been feeling as if I'm running from God when I don’t look forward to prayer time.  Not a pleasant thought at all.  I have felt lazy, undisciplined, and unloving.  Ouch.

Then one of you said something that opened a floodgate.  Because of this I suddenly saw myself sitting in my ‘prayer chair,’ Bible or Breviary in hand.  There I am (in my mental picture), settling in to pray.  In march the distractions, as they always do.  

The thing is:  once my mind makes any attempt to 'quiet,' then every stray thought that's been lingering around snaps up that golden opportunity to hop on in and demand its share of attention.  I can count on it.

Ah ha, there it is, I thought today.  'I can count on it.'  I've begun to associate sitting in prayer with feeling beaten up, bedraggled, worn down, defeated, and ashamed of being “lukewarm.’  Ah ha!

It’s not the Lord Himself I’ve been avoiding!  It is that persistent, nagging, dragging war with distractions. 

But what to do about this problem?  Stick to it, fight it out, trudge on upward, scale that wall of distractions unaided?

I'm sure God is pleased by such efforts.  However, I think He understands when we sometimes need a little help.  A spiritual director once asked me (when I was having trouble praying as I once had) 'well... what CAN you do?'  Start with that one thing (I was told), and begin to build on that. 

Today I went back to that suggestion.  I gave myself permission not to beat myself up, permission not to climb a ladderless wall with my bare, worn down hands.  I took one thing I CAN do and asked God to help me build on that.

The one thing (today) was music.  I remembered that I haven't been using it in my prayer time lately.  It has often helped me 'shake the dust of the world' out of my soul before, so I tried to find a CD.  Couldn't.  I'd moved them around.  

Then I got distracted by my laptop sitting next to me.. but instead of fighting that, I actually picked UP the laptop and clicked on a few holy songs (I knew just where to quickly find them).  Before long, I was absorbed in the music and singing along. 

There were pictures also, as these were YouTubes, so suddenly two senses were engaged.  One photo was of an incenser; I got distracted by thinking of how much I love incense.  No problem, I have a jar of it right next to my chair.  I opened it and the aroma gently filled my prayer space.  Three senses engaged.

I picked up a rosary (four senses), began to pray it, but before doing so I told God what and whom I wanted to pray for.  Soon I was thanking Him for one thing, and another... and, well.... what do you know!  I was talking with God, totally undistracted, unconcerned about anything other than Him and Him alone.  It was as if the whole entire world had disappeared. 

Well.  What do you know.   

'Come, O God of my heart,' wrote St. Gertrude, 'gather together my scattered mental powers and fix them upon Yourself.'

Thanks be to God.  He did.


This is part of a 'mini-series' of posts on walls. To continue in chronological order, click here.