Distraction in Prayer

One of the biggest challenges with any form of prayer is distraction. Everyone experiences distractions and even the saints talked about their struggles to stay focused during prayer.

When God initiates a conversation with us, we have to respond with determination and effort. Prayer is a battle, a form of spiritual combat against our own weakness and against the devil who will do anything to keep us apart from God.

Involuntary distractions may reveal where our prayers are needed and can provide an opportunity to increase our committment to God.

Deliberate distractions should be eliminated because they indicate earthly attachments that we must free ourselves from.

Becoming frustrated by distractions can only make things worse. A gentle refocusing of the heart and mind on God might be all that is necessary.

Distraction can be remedied by faithful preparation and working to be more watchful and perseverant, to become more humble, and to trust God more.

God invites us into the battle of prayer:

Prepare for the devil’s tactics:

As they continued their journey Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed Him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10: 38-42

Distractions are of two kinds:

God is always there:

The first problem that emerges to those who pray is distraction. You start to pray and then your mind wanders, it wanders all over the world; your heart is here, your mind is there … distraction from prayer. Prayer often co-exists with distraction. Indeed, the human mind struggles to dwell for long on a single thought. We all experience this constant whirlwind of images and illusions in perpetual motion, which accompanies us even during sleep. And we all know that it is not good to follow this inclination towards disorder.

Pope Francis, General Audience, 19 May 2021

Overcoming obstacles to prayer:

Staying attentive to the face of God:

Learning to be still in a world of noise:

The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2729

Every saint suffered through distraction in prayer:

Prayer without distraction would be a gift from God:

The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of the Catholic Church

The covenant family of God:

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