In yesterday’s post I mentioned that prayer is not our work but is always the work of God. Of course in prayer we desire to co-operate with the activity of God in our lives, but even this desire to co-operate is proof that God is already at work in us.
We co-operate by with God by following our desire for God and giving time to this ultimate relationship. These moments might be the couple of minutes at the traffic lights, the moments of stillness and silence on waking and when preparing for sleep, and the formal prayers we may have learnt as a child. At other times we may have the opportunity to sit in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Such prayer can feel like a solitary and even lonely activity, but our weekly participation in the Mass with others reminds us that in every moment we are a part of a community of friends who form a family of faith.
In the same way as a human relationship grows when I begin to waste time with the one I love, speaking and listening about anything and everything, so too my relationship with God grows when I spend time with God in prayer.
I believe that there is no such thing as “distractions” in prayer. A distraction is simply something that I don’t want to be present. If prayer is God’s work, and if God has the power to place things in my mind or to remove them, then perhaps God wants thoughts to be in my head that I would rather be without. I have given up being surprised at the diversity of mundane “distractions” that float through my monkey mind. In fact I have come to believe that in the thoughts that I call “distractions” the true direction of my own heart is being revealed to me by God.
Because prayer is the ultimate engagement with reality, the things that occupy me, or the fears that I try to repress or run from, will enter my consciousness. In prayer God is guiding me to engage with reality, and freeing me from the the fantasies that persistently offer fake security and promise nothing more than a mirage of happiness.
So if you experience distractions in prayer, you are in great company! Relax and keep praying!