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  #1  
Old Jul 30, '12, 10:26 pm
Nov1411 Nov1411 is offline
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Default How to focus when praying?

I used to pray the Rosary every day. Then, about 2 months ago, I became really busy and stopped for about 1 1/2 weeks. After that, I would say it every so often. But when I did, I had so much on my mind (and -as bad as this sounds- wanted to finish as quickly as possible), that I pretty much just rushed through the words. Not meditating on the Mysteries or anything. For the past month, I've been trying to say it every day (I feel really guilty if I skip a day, for some reason). But sometimes I still just speed through the words. And my mind is elsewhere, pretty much every day.

I don't know what to do. I've been feeling really guilty that I haven't been praying with my whole heart. I also have this little part of me that starts thinking things like, "What's the point? Especially if I'm just gonna rush through it anyway. There's really no reason why I have to do this every day, is there? What good is this really doing anyone?"

Have any of you been in the position where you couldn't focus when praying? What helped you?
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  #2  
Old Jul 31, '12, 2:15 am
FallingBlossom FallingBlossom is offline
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Default Re: How to focus when praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nov1411 View Post
I used to pray the Rosary every day. Then, about 2 months ago, I became really busy and stopped for about 1 1/2 weeks. After that, I would say it every so often. But when I did, I had so much on my mind (and -as bad as this sounds- wanted to finish as quickly as possible), that I pretty much just rushed through the words. Not meditating on the Mysteries or anything. For the past month, I've been trying to say it every day (I feel really guilty if I skip a day, for some reason). But sometimes I still just speed through the words. And my mind is elsewhere, pretty much every day.

I don't know what to do. I've been feeling really guilty that I haven't been praying with my whole heart. I also have this little part of me that starts thinking things like, "What's the point? Especially if I'm just gonna rush through it anyway. There's really no reason why I have to do this every day, is there? What good is this really doing anyone?"

Have any of you been in the position where you couldn't focus when praying? What helped you?
Firstly, I'm happy that you've been saying it every day! It's really a hard prayer to get through. So congrats on that, you're halfway there.

Let's address the thoughts you've been having first, like "What's the point, especially if I'm just gonna rush through it anyway?" and similar. These sorts of thoughts are the ones you want to ignore. They don't come from God - Jesus commanded us to pray, after all.

And now to focussing: I'm a young Catholic but even for those more experienced, it can be difficult. I've come to the conclusion that prayer, for most of us ordinary Catholics, is a struggle. Sometimes you might find yourself able to maintain a sustained attention for a long time, other times you'll hardly be able to recollect yourself for half a minute.

Take distractions as an opportunity to humble yourself before God. He's really sending you a gift and trying to make you see that you can't depend upon yourself and your dispositions to make a good prayer, and that you have to turn to Him for help. He's pushing you in the direction of humility and true love of God by making you deny yourself and keep going when you don't feel like it. It's a suffering and a humiliation - it's downright painful sometimes - but it's designed to get you further in your spiritual development.

If you aren't paying attention to the words of the Rosary because you just can't, try simply to focus on the presence of God and ask for help from Our Lady. It's the perseverance that counts the most. Prayer - and the entirety of the spiritual life - is not based on feeling the words.

And in the meantime, don't give up! Our Lord will reward your efforts.
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  #3  
Old Jul 31, '12, 2:33 am
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UpUpAndAway UpUpAndAway is offline
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Default Re: How to focus when praying?

This is a chronic problem for me. I generally solve it by praying with others. For example, our cathedral has a rosary recital every weekday at 4:45pm (just before Vespers, which in turn is just before Mass). The rosary leader prays a meditation on each mystery at the start of every decade, allows us a few seconds to add our own prayer intentions, and then asks one of the people present to lead the prayer for that decade. It's wonderful. I've been asked to lead a decade the last two times I was there. When others rely upon me to stay focused, it helps me stay focused myself. Plus it's very edifying to pray with other like-minded individuals

If I can find just one other person to pray with, it's enough. Praying alone, particularly at home, is incredibly difficult for me. It is, however, what tends to happen much of the time.

Should I be unable to find another person to pray with, then I at least try to go to a church, the cathedral, or the chapel at the local Christian retreat center. The important thing is quiet. I have four churches within walking distance (though they are not always open; at least two of them can be opened on demand if there's someone at either the rectory or the parish office) and both the cathedral and the retreat center are within three miles (5 km) of my home. This removes all the distractions that exist at home - the TV, the phone, the doorbell, the Internet...leaving far more brain space open for proper prayer and reflection.

Don't know if these approaches will help you, but they work for me.
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Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called "the Church."
- St. Clement of Alexandria


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  #4  
Old Jul 31, '12, 5:47 am
Bravo 6 Bravo 6 is offline
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Join Date: July 8, 2012
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Default Re: How to focus when praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nov1411 View Post
I used to pray the Rosary every day. Then, about 2 months ago, I became really busy and stopped for about 1 1/2 weeks. After that, I would say it every so often. But when I did, I had so much on my mind (and -as bad as this sounds- wanted to finish as quickly as possible), that I pretty much just rushed through the words. Not meditating on the Mysteries or anything. For the past month, I've been trying to say it every day (I feel really guilty if I skip a day, for some reason). But sometimes I still just speed through the words. And my mind is elsewhere, pretty much every day.

I don't know what to do. I've been feeling really guilty that I haven't been praying with my whole heart. I also have this little part of me that starts thinking things like, "What's the point? Especially if I'm just gonna rush through it anyway. There's really no reason why I have to do this every day, is there? What good is this really doing anyone?"

Have any of you been in the position where you couldn't focus when praying? What helped you?
I think God would be more pleased with your efforts now then ever before,because this time,you are unceasingly distracted and derailed.Nothing worth fighting for and spiritually meritorious comes easy.You're fighting tooth and nail in order to pray the rosary,where before,it was perhaps more in your comfort zone(lukewarm?).Maybe,just maybe,God enjoys watching His faithful do battle with the "world,the flesh and the devil?"To overcome the odds in His name for His name.Even though it is not compulsory,it is highly recommended by the Church and His MOTHER for good reason.

God bless,

JMJ
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  #5  
Old Jul 31, '12, 5:44 pm
Nov1411 Nov1411 is offline
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Join Date: April 27, 2012
Posts: 106
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How to focus when praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FallingBlossom View Post
Firstly, I'm happy that you've been saying it every day! It's really a hard prayer to get through. So congrats on that, you're halfway there.
Thanks

Quote:
Let's address the thoughts you've been having first, like "What's the point, especially if I'm just gonna rush through it anyway?" and similar. These sorts of thoughts are the ones you want to ignore. They don't come from God - Jesus commanded us to pray, after all.
I've been trying to ignore them, and it has worked for the most part. But there were still times when I skipped saying it for a day or two.

Quote:
Sometimes you might find yourself able to maintain a sustained attention for a long time, other times you'll hardly be able to recollect yourself for half a minute.
I was actually able to pay attention today. That was the first time that had happened in months.

Quote:
Take distractions as an opportunity to humble yourself before God. He's really sending you a gift and trying to make you see that you can't depend upon yourself and your dispositions to make a good prayer, and that you have to turn to Him for help. He's pushing you in the direction of humility and true love of God by making you deny yourself and keep going when you don't feel like it. It's a suffering and a humiliation - it's downright painful sometimes - but it's designed to get you further in your spiritual development.

If you aren't paying attention to the words of the Rosary because you just can't, try simply to focus on the presence of God and ask for help from Our Lady. It's the perseverance that counts the most. Prayer - and the entirety of the spiritual life - is not based on feeling the words.

And in the meantime, don't give up! Our Lord will reward your efforts.
I'll keep that all in mind Thanks so much for the advice!
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  #6  
Old Jul 31, '12, 6:00 pm
Nov1411 Nov1411 is offline
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Join Date: April 27, 2012
Posts: 106
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How to focus when praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by UpUpAndAway View Post
This is a chronic problem for me. I generally solve it by praying with others. For example, our cathedral has a rosary recital every weekday at 4:45pm (just before Vespers, which in turn is just before Mass). The rosary leader prays a meditation on each mystery at the start of every decade, allows us a few seconds to add our own prayer intentions, and then asks one of the people present to lead the prayer for that decade. It's wonderful. I've been asked to lead a decade the last two times I was there. When others rely upon me to stay focused, it helps me stay focused myself. Plus it's very edifying to pray with other like-minded individuals

If I can find just one other person to pray with, it's enough. Praying alone, particularly at home, is incredibly difficult for me. It is, however, what tends to happen much of the time.

Should I be unable to find another person to pray with, then I at least try to go to a church, the cathedral, or the chapel at the local Christian retreat center. The important thing is quiet. I have four churches within walking distance (though they are not always open; at least two of them can be opened on demand if there's someone at either the rectory or the parish office) and both the cathedral and the retreat center are within three miles (5 km) of my home. This removes all the distractions that exist at home - the TV, the phone, the doorbell, the Internet...leaving far more brain space open for proper prayer and reflection.

Don't know if these approaches will help you, but they work for me.
Thanks
I've found that when I pray with my family, we don't quite "mesh." As in, we all say the words at a different speed. So those of us who like to pray the Rosary slower and meditate on the Mysteries (my brother and I), have to say it faster in order to be on the same page as the rest of the family.
But maybe I will try going to a church sometime to pray. Thanks again!
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  #7  
Old Jul 31, '12, 6:03 pm
Nov1411 Nov1411 is offline
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Join Date: April 27, 2012
Posts: 106
Religion: Catholic
Default Re: How to focus when praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bravo 6 View Post
I think God would be more pleased with your efforts now then ever before,because this time,you are unceasingly distracted and derailed.Nothing worth fighting for and spiritually meritorious comes easy.You're fighting tooth and nail in order to pray the rosary,where before,it was perhaps more in your comfort zone(lukewarm?).Maybe,just maybe,God enjoys watching His faithful do battle with the "world,the flesh and the devil?"To overcome the odds in His name for His name.Even though it is not compulsory,it is highly recommended by the Church and His MOTHER for good reason.

God bless,

JMJ
Thank you!
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  #8  
Old Aug 1, '12, 4:14 am
UpUpAndAway's Avatar
UpUpAndAway UpUpAndAway is offline
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Join Date: March 11, 2010
Posts: 6,550
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Default Re: How to focus when praying?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nov1411 View Post
Thanks
I've found that when I pray with my family, we don't quite "mesh." As in, we all say the words at a different speed. So those of us who like to pray the Rosary slower and meditate on the Mysteries (my brother and I), have to say it faster in order to be on the same page as the rest of the family.
But maybe I will try going to a church sometime to pray. Thanks again!
Perhaps just you and your brother could pray together...? It sounds like you are both on the same page, so to speak.

I sometimes find it challenging to pray with others because of the speed issue, but rather than allowing them to rush me, I slow them down
__________________
Per fidem intrepidus

Just as God's will is creation and is called "the world," so his intention is the salvation of men, and it is called "the Church."
- St. Clement of Alexandria


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