Mind Wandering During Prayer

I know this is a common problem for many people, but I’ve yet to hear a very good method of keeping your mind on prayer. My mind always wanders when I try to pray. Maybe I have a severe attention deficit disorder or something, but this problem really strains my prayer life, and gets quite frustrating.

Does anyone have any practical advice for someone trying to improve their focus during prayer?

I know it is frustrating, we all have this to one extent or another I think. It may sound overly simplistic, but to me, sometimes the answer to difficulty in prayer - is prayer itself. Start by asking for help in avoiding distraction, and in strengthening your ability to pray without your mind wandering.

It may take some time, but in perseverance lies success -
for the Lord always delivers for those who truly ask and seek him with all their heart.

From the Catechism:

Facing difficulties in prayer

*2729 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.16

2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. the bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: "‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’"17*

Bless you,
Margaret :slight_smile:

Someone in another thread mentioned one of the Saints (I think St Padre Pio) who likened people during prayer to pet dogs who may stray a bit from their master’s side when walking but always return to him :slight_smile: It’s a nice image.

You may find it helpful to actually pray ABOUT whatever it is that is distracting you, assuming it’s something you can pray about, or simply offer your distractions up to God.

usually I find that the direction my mind takes when it wanders is toward the matter which I should be praying about in any case. For instance, praying the rosary this morning as I walked I kept going off thinking about a dispute with a friend and how to handle it. I finally just flat out lifted the intention up and instead of rehashing the dispute, changed my inner chatter to describing the problem and asking for guidance. By the end of my walk I knew what to say to my friend, and how to say it, and how to make the situation better.

Sometimes I think that the distractions are the HS’s way of nudging us to pray about a situation/person/event, etc.

I agree. And to add, it happens from time to time, no matter how hard you try to stay focused. I think it is the Holy Spirit causing such relaxation that your mind may not be able to focus. (I hope that makes sense)

All very true. I got the impression from the OP that he was speaking of the wandering of the mind and the insignificant frequent distractions we all face in prayer, which serve as temptations to stray from our purpose of spending time with God - which we are taught by the CCC to practice perseverance and vigilance, fixing our hearts and mind upon him; rather than one particularly plaguing pressing problem forcing it’s way upon one’s attention - which naturally should always be addressed with God.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.