Day 17 – Distractions
In learning to pray, Brother Lawrence had to learn how to deal with distractions. “In the beginning he had often spent the whole period of prayer fighting off thoughts and falling into them again.”
When we pray, we also discover that our mind wanders. We try to stay on track, but sometimes our thoughts drift to a recent conversation or some fun activity or our next meal.
Our minds can be bombarded with things to do, people to see, projects to complete.
It would seem that the routines of monastery life would eliminate distractions for Brother Lawrence. Yet the rules for prayer he was given didn’t help him. He gradually learned to find his own way in prayer, a simple methodless method of practicing God’s presence always.
Some suggestions for distractions: Prayer should reduce our anxiety, not increase it. Take a light approach.
When distracted in prayer, write down those distracting thoughts, and come back to prayer. These are normal operations of our brains. Just jot it down and carry it out . . . later. Your prayer time is dedicated to talk with God.
Or, why not try following that distracting thought? That distracting thought may be the one thing you need to concentrate on in your prayer time that day.
Try asking yourself: Why is this thought presenting itself to me or bothering me? Could it be that I need to spend my time today talking with God about this?
Or, if it’s a crying child or a family need that calls for your immediate attention, respond to that need and return to prayer later.
Like Brother Lawrence, find a path for prayer that works for you.
Question: What is the most common distraction in prayer you experience?
Action Step: Decide ahead of time how you will handle various distractions in prayer.
This is God’s Word for you today,