In 2013 I wrote the following, which I share now for It's Worth Revisiting Revisiting Wednesday. I needed to be reminded of this today....
I have felt, at times, as if I were running from prayer. Not a pleasant thought at all.
However, one of you said something that opened a floodgate. Because of this, I see myself sitting in my ‘prayer chair,’ Bible or Breviary in hand, settling in to pray. In come the distractions... as they always do.
It seems that once my mind makes any attempt to 'quiet,' suddenly 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. There is the very phrase I've needed to look at: 'I can count on it.'
I realize. I've begun to associate sitting in prayer with feeling beaten up, bedraggled, worn down, defeated, and ashamed of being 'lukewarm.’
It is not the Lord Himself I’ve been avoiding! It's that persistent, nagging, dragging war with distractions.
But what to do about this problem? Shall I 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) '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. I couldn't, for I had moved them.
Then I got distracted by my laptop sitting next to me.. but instead of fighting that distraction, I actually picked UP the laptop and clicked on a few holy songs. 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. Remembering that I have a jar of it right next to my chair, I opened that and savored the aroma gently filling 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.
Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.
Public domain photo; bottom version digitally altered