Especially in our prayer that plays a crucial role in our life, we need to learn how to turn distractions into enhancers. We cannot deny that very often our prayer is hounded by all sorts of impertinent and stray thoughts that would practically annul the effectiveness of our intimate conversation with our Father God.
Perhaps one immediate thing we can do to address this problem is to make sure that we have a clear topic to take up in our prayer, together with relevant materials — Bible, some spiritual book, novena and other devotional items — plus a list of intentions to pray for.
We should go to our prayer truly prepared and not with an empty head and heart with the vain hope that perhaps some inspiration will come our way. We have to realize more deeply that inspiration can come to us more readily if we are prepared for prayer.
Of course, we have to understand that preparation for our prayer should be both remote and proximate. Remote in the sense that we are always referring things to God all throughout the day. Proximate preparation can mean stirring up the proper dispositions just before our prayer time.
Those should help us to have focus and concentration when we pray. Just the same, we also need to elicit in us the appropriate feelings, if not, passions. Prayer becomes more effective and focused, our connection with God better assured and locked, when prayer is truly felt, and not just lingering in the intellectual level.
In fact, what would also help to a great extent is when we are physically fit as well, not tired and burned out. That's simply because prayer requires not only spiritual strength but also physical stamina. If we feel physically weak, most likely we cannot go the distance, and we would easily be carried away by all kinds of distractions.
Physical fitness would very well support our mental and psycho-emotional faculties in our prayer. It facilitates the mobilization of these faculties.
Since not all days are good and conducive to prayer due to our changing conditions, we need to realize that a certain discipline and forcefulness is necessary to have focus in prayer. We just have to be game in this respect. It's not all the time that we would be euphoric and ecstatic in our prayer. There will be plenty of times when we will feel dry, but we just have to go on.
This is actually true in all aspects of our life. And Christ somehow articulated this need when he said: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force.” (Mt 11,12)
At the same time, we have to be always humble in our prayer in the sense that we should always realize that the effectiveness of our prayer can only come from God himself. We have to humble ourselves to always ask for his grace even as we apply force and discipline on ourselves.
If in the end, in spite of all our efforts, distractions would still hound us, it may be because God wants us to use those distractions as the very material for our prayer. Before God, we can actually bring up anything as long as we are aware that we conversing with God.
The distractions can actually shed light on things that we need to know. They can point to some important things that we tend to take for granted. The important thing is that we are praying.*
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