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  #1  
Old Mar 11, '10, 8:27 am
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RedSoxWife RedSoxWife is offline
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Default How do you deal with distraction while praying?

Lately I've been struggling with distractions while praying. I guess I've always been distracted when I think about it, but since I've started reading St. Teresa of Avila's the Interior Castle I've really noticed it. I have a toddler with me 24/7, but she's actually very quiet when I pray (she'll bring her book over and point out the Hail Mary page every chance that she gets, but she loves to listen to the rosary) so I really just have my own distracted mind to blame! How do you focus and deal with distractions (external or internal) while praying?

I even find myself distracted when asking for God's help to not be distracted! So far I just try to refocus over and over and over again, but any ideas are appreciated!
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  #2  
Old Mar 11, '10, 9:53 am
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

I sometimes use book meditations to help, so I don't have to be the one struggling as much.

Basically I try to separate myself interiorly from the distractions, keeping them outside and myself focused inside, if that makes sense.. but I am bad at dealing with distractions and look forwards to hearing the advice.
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  #3  
Old Mar 11, '10, 1:24 pm
Alan55 Alan55 is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

Some people have a harder time of it than others. I have a busy mind too, so I share your problem with distractions.

The way that you pray matters. If you are doing a more active prayer form, such as talking with God, journalling, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, or meditating on scripture, it seems to be less of a problem. If you are praying more "passively," where your mind is quieted and not filled with thoughts, distractions can be a bigger issue.

The most helpful advice I've gotten with respect to the prayer of quiet is to simply ignore the distracting thoughts. You won't always succeed, but simply let those thoughts go and don't worry about them. Gently, repeatedly, draw your attention back to whatever it is you are focusing on: a word or phrase (such as the name of Jesus or the Jesus Prayer), an image (Jesus on the Cross, etc.), etc. You can't stop your mind from thinking, but eventually, as you pay less and less attention to those thoughts, your mind quiets down (or you care less and less about the three-ringed circus going on around you). At the center, quietly, unaffected by those thoughts, is your desire for God and, if God so chooses, a sense of God's presence.

Be gentle with yourself. It isn't easy, and it takes practice, but distractions are probably less of a problem that most of us make them out to be.
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  #4  
Old Mar 11, '10, 2:32 pm
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EmeraldWings EmeraldWings is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

well, Saint Francis de Sales tells us that even if we spend all our time in prayer fighting distractions, then it was prayer well spent,
so it's not necessarily the prayer itself that matters, but the effort you put into it,
of course we really have to try and concentrate on our prayer, but don't let it bother you when you have to fight distractions,

and also, when you are taking care of your family or your other responsibilities or duties of whatever kind, those can be turned into prayers also, Jesus tells us to pray always, and of course that doesn't mean formal or mental prayer, but instead what it means is, whatever you do, do it well, do all things for God,
at the begging of each day, we should say the daily offering, which says "I offer Thee my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day" and by that you make your entire day into a prayer, provided that whatever you do, you do it well,

you probably know the daily offering, but just in case you don't, i will give it to you -

"Oh Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, in reparation for my sins, and especially for the intentions recommended this month and this day"

there are a few different versions, but that's the one i say.

well ok that's all, hope this helps, tc.
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  #5  
Old Mar 11, '10, 2:53 pm
Dorothy Dorothy is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

Everyone suffers from distractions, unless they are the few who are into very focused, higher prayer forms.

A spiritual director told me to just ignore the distraction peacefully and get back to focusing on the prayer. He said not to become anxious and upset with yourself about the distractions. Every time we let go of our distraction and get back to the prayer we are choosing God over the distraction.

For myself, with the Rosary, I like to pray the Scriptural Rosary. There is a line of Scripture before each Hail Mary, that reflects the Mystery. That always helps me a lot to stay focused.
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  #6  
Old Mar 11, '10, 2:55 pm
Bookcat Bookcat is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedSoxWife View Post
Lately I've been struggling with distractions while praying. I guess I've always been distracted when I think about it, but since I've started reading St. Teresa of Avila's the Interior Castle I've really noticed it. I have a toddler with me 24/7, but she's actually very quiet when I pray (she'll bring her book over and point out the Hail Mary page every chance that she gets, but she loves to listen to the rosary) so I really just have my own distracted mind to blame! How do you focus and deal with distractions (external or internal) while praying?

I even find myself distracted when asking for God's help to not be distracted! So far I just try to refocus over and over and over again, but any ideas are appreciated!
http://www.frjacquesphilippe.com/the...in_prayer.html

this is a great book

http://www.frjacquesphilippe.com/boo...e_for_god.html

http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p4s1c3a2.htm
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  #7  
Old Mar 15, '10, 2:56 pm
ready ready is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

You can even turn your distraction into a prayer by praying for a few moments for whatever person or whatever issue that is responsible for the distraction.
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  #8  
Old Mar 15, '10, 3:45 pm
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

I always close my eyes, and often I bury my face in my hands. I get tempted by looking around in the room, seeing something, then my mind going elsewere.

-Jeanne
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  #9  
Old Mar 15, '10, 5:19 pm
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

I have a constant struggle with intrusive thoughts - the brain wandering - when I pray. It is mainly when I pray the memorized prayers - Creed, Our Father, Hail mary etc..... so, for example, the Rosary can be quite an intrusive-thoughts battle ground. This is made even more difficult when you consider that you also have to be contemplating each Mystery (which for me sometimes gets lost mid way into the decade).

To combat the intrusive thoughts I often visualize the words or scenes of the prayer. With the Creed I visualize the place names mentioned or suggested, for example, 'born of the Virgin Mary' = Bethlehem, 'suffered under Pontius Pilate" = Jerusalem, 'was crucified dead and buried' = Golgotha, 'he descended into hell' = Sheol, 'he ascended into Heaven' = (from the Mount of Olives) etc.

With the Our Father. I visualize every sentence and sometimes add gestures sybolizing the meaning.

Now, I know if my thoughts have been wandering when half way into a prayer if I can't recall the visualizations or if I forgot the gestures...... and if so, I know I haven't been paying attention, so I start the prayer again!

We can all find our own personal ways to deal with this problem. I'm convinced it will always be a challenge and I will deal to it from day to day.
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  #10  
Old Mar 15, '10, 5:25 pm
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Rachael_ Rachael_ is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EmeraldWings View Post
well, Saint Francis de Sales tells us that even if we spend all our time in prayer fighting distractions, then it was prayer well spent,
so it's not necessarily the prayer itself that matters, but the effort you put into it,
of course we really have to try and concentrate on our prayer, but don't let it bother you when you have to fight distractions,

and also, when you are taking care of your family or your other responsibilities or duties of whatever kind, those can be turned into prayers also, Jesus tells us to pray always, and of course that doesn't mean formal or mental prayer, but instead what it means is, whatever you do, do it well, do all things for God,
at the begging of each day, we should say the daily offering, which says "I offer Thee my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day" and by that you make your entire day into a prayer, provided that whatever you do, you do it well,

you probably know the daily offering, but just in case you don't, i will give it to you -

"Oh Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of Thy Sacred Heart, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, in reparation for my sins, and especially for the intentions recommended this month and this day"

there are a few different versions, but that's the one i say.

well ok that's all, hope this helps, tc.
This is really good advice and I thank you for it. I often have difficult time praying due to my various mental illnesses and I'm sure God understands I am doing the best I possibly can.
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  #11  
Old Mar 16, '10, 4:10 pm
IamFree IamFree is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

I'm someone who has recovered from debillitating intrusive thoughts and ocd.
My recommendation is let the intrusive thoughts join you in prayer.
The harder you try to push them away, the more they stick.
If you are okay with them, they will fade away. Maybe not instantly but there will be a day where you look back and notice you were free of them

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www.freeintrusivethoughtsocd.com
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  #12  
Old Mar 16, '10, 4:20 pm
MtnDwellar MtnDwellar is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

It is a real problem, one that I was discussing recently with a friend. He told me that attention to the action was crucial in prayer. He said that once you get started and have God's attention, you had better give Him yours!

He suggested making sure that lower faculties are resting before prayer.
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  #13  
Old Mar 16, '10, 8:46 pm
beckycmarie beckycmarie is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

RedSoxWife,

Until we reach the Prayer of Union, we will have distractions. We should not be discouraged and assume our prayer isn't good if we experience distractions. All we need to do when we become aware that we've become distracted is peacefully, return to our prayer, and not berate ourselves for having become distracted.

You might find this passage of Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay helpful:

Distractions
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  #14  
Old Mar 16, '10, 9:06 pm
JaredR JaredR is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

You will never totally get rid of distractions, but something I've found helpful is slowing down my prayers--especially when praying memorized prayers. Praying each word deliberately helps you focus on the meaning. Unfortunately, this is often against the grain of our nature because we are always on the move, and this can manifest itself in our prayer lives as an itch to rush.

Our FATHER... who art in heaven... HALLOWED be Thy name..... Thy kingdom come.... THY will be done... on earth.... as it is.. in heaven...
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  #15  
Old Mar 17, '10, 9:50 am
mangy dog mangy dog is offline
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Default Re: How do you deal with distraction while praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedSoxWife View Post
Lately I've been struggling with distractions while praying. I guess I've always been distracted when I think about it, but since I've started reading St. Teresa of Avila's the Interior Castle I've really noticed it. I have a toddler with me 24/7, but she's actually very quiet when I pray (she'll bring her book over and point out the Hail Mary page every chance that she gets, but she loves to listen to the rosary) so I really just have my own distracted mind to blame! How do you focus and deal with distractions (external or internal) while praying?

I even find myself distracted when asking for God's help to not be distracted! So far I just try to refocus over and over and over again, but any ideas are appreciated!


Bypass....continue to pray.........ignore the inane and distracting images and do what you've been doing, refocus and continue to pray.

When there is a parade (Macy's for example) not every exhibit is to your interest and perhaps only a small fraction are of interest. The others just pass by without your interest.

I have learned to ( and you can too) ignore the entire parade altogether.

Hope this helps.
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