Questioning myself - too cerebral - struggling with or neglecting prayer life but on CAF a lot

Most of the time I really enjoy participating in the CAF community and I have learned things that have strengthened my knowledge of the Faith, or felt affirmed by knowing there are other earnest practicing Catholics I can share it with. That’s a great blessing.

I have a lot of “head knowledge” :coffeeread: about the Faith, and I don’t completely lack “heart knowledge” of it :heart: :love: but for the last few years I find it difficult to concentrate in prayer or even some days to remember TO pray. :frowning:

Now I’m not blaming CAF for this; I was headed in that direction in the earlier part of the past decade. At that time, a group of other women I hung out with and went to Adoration and Mass with began to get busy and we weren’t able to get together as often. I did carry on for a few years myself better than I do currently.

In the last 5 years or so, life became very chaotic - I went through the implosion of my final two jobs and into the process of filing for disability, going through a home foreclosure, moving twice, surgeries and other disruptions. However, things are looking up. I do wake in the mornings and often feel very grateful for things being so much better now. And I give thanks to God for that.

But so far I am still having a time with structured prayer. There are some things that are challenges to that in terms of my own physical and mental issues. I have mild sleep apnea and though it doesn’t require medical treatment (and I’m not soliciting that here in view of forum rules so please refrain from offering it). The only difficulty with that is I have to wake slowly and in stages and am not good at waking very early. :yawn: By the time I am less groggy, usually the other human and several of the animals in the household are up and about and it’s awkward trying to find a free quiet alone time and place to pray.

I realize the above is a discipline issue too and I could set an alarm, force myself to drink coffee, etc. :coffee: I haven’t ruled that out but am reluctant. I’m ashamed at how slothful that sounds. Also ashamed that this is but one of many “I’m slothful in prayer” threads I’ve posted!

The other problem I have is that I have ADD and my mind wanders something terrible when I do pray! :mad: I even pray before I pray asking God to help me stay on track and I try so hard to but a minute or two later, something from what I’m praying about leads to a train of thought that leads me completely away from prayer! :eek: I then apologize to God, attempt to regroup, only to find myself repeating the process ad infinitum and finally giving up.

One alternative I have thought of that may be the best thing is to try to wake up early, say a series of structured prayers that I came up with a few years back, and then go back to sleep for awhile till I feel more like facing the day.

Does anyone else struggle like this or anything close to it?

I’m not even after “sensible consolations” in prayer, but I just feel like I love God but don’t show it the way I should - yet I can kill hours thinking about Catholicism on CAF and other places, I have tons of excellent religious books but some of them I have yet to read - I have trouble not getting pulled away by other distracting things. Maybe it’s a menopause thing - ladies in that bracket, what do you think?

God gave me my mind, and though it’s a bit wired differently, being able to think about the Faith and explain it to others can be a good thing, right? I can evangelize and teach, that’s a spiritual work of mercy. So I know it’s a question of balance and right now I’m “unbalanced,” ha ha.

I feel like the seed sown in the middle of weeds and the weeds - of my own mind and of distractions around me - are growing up and choking the wheat and that’s not what I want to happen.

Advice and prayers most welcome!

I know what you mean. I believe it is an age thing. I find it much harder to focus on anything now than when I was younger. I also struggle a lot with getting up in the morning. Hormone changes make sleep more difficult and I wake often during the night. Things must be really difficult for you if there is sleep apnea on top of that.

It would be good I think for you to pick a certain time each day that you will always pray. Make it a time that is easy for you, which it sounds is not when you first get up. For me, I always make sure I do some praying while I am driving to work. Some people would say I am not giving enough attention to the Lord. But, I am a single mother, work full time, and have almost no other time to myself. My commute is at a minimum st 45 minutes each way…and often runs 1 hour and 15 minutes. Fortunately, the Lord often gives me consolations during prayer and so I don’t mind when the traffic makes it take longer. :slight_smile: I do believe angels are watching over me because sometimes I zone out a little but have always managed to stop when needed. And yes my mind wanders off quite often during this time.

I have a regular adoration hour each week and maybe that is something you could get back into. Perhaps you could read some of those spiritual books you have when you are there. Or just sit and talk to the Lord about whatever is troubling you.

Are you able to go to daily mass? You can get a lot of praying done there. There is a church near where I work and I escape for that over the lunch hour whenever I can. I try to make it a couple of times a week.

The Lord appreciates any of your efforts to pray. Do not worry that your mind wanders. You are doing the best you can. Just try to find something that works for you and stick with it. God bless you.

You haven’t specifically mentioned “contemplative prayer.” When I first started moving into “heart knowledge” it was with a regimen of contemplative prayer. When I used to do it, I would often fall asleep, but so what? In this sort of prayer it’s time with God; I found it very relaxing at times. There really isn’t a specific “method” to contemplative prayer per se, although there are methods, such as Lectio Divina, that incorporate it.

You may find it new and interesting and therefore easier to make time for it. And over a period of time, it very well could help your ADD. I had severe bipolar disorder, was very manic and did some pretty weird things, but over time and prayer and study I was completely healed; not “managed” like the best that medicine could hope to achieve, but actually healed by the Divine Therapist.

When you do get a chance to do “structured” prayer, if you feel it is hollow, CCC 2708 might have a clue; it says Christian prayer should go beyond [vocal and] meditative, and into a prayer that achieves true union with Jesus. Then it goes on in 2709-2724 to state that contemplative prayer achieves just that.

Reference: Expressions of Prayer; CCC 2700-2724

Some excerpts:

2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: “Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves.” It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.

2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith.

2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more. But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts. Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, “to his likeness.”

2718 Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery. The mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.

Thanks both of you! :slight_smile:

WaitingForJesus, I do pray in those little moments and it is helpful. I listen to K-Love Christian radio while driving and that helps a lot. I am thinking about starting to get up and go to 8:00 a.m. Mass.

Alan, I did do contemplative prayer some years ago. That was during the time of great growth and when I was hanging with those other prayerful gals more. :grouphug: Adoration is here and there, hopefully will increase in frequency. I fall asleep in Adoration sometimes :sleep: because the Lord’s peace is so effective against my hyperness! :bounce: Food for thought . . . . :hmmm:

When my wife and I were engaging in contemplative prayer a lot, we did fall asleep from time to time. Our daughter once called it, “taking a nap with Jesus.” :stuck_out_tongue:

Alan

Hello sister~

If you can access EWTN online, this week- maybe Tue or Wed- an MD was on who

gave enlightening information ( for me) about hormones, sleep apnea.

Peace and prayers~

I don’t know if this works for you in your situation, but is it possible --once you’ve fully awakened – to remain in your room still for a short while to pray? Those I know who have volunteered with NET ministries say that’s what they were trained to do. Since they are always sleeping at host houses, as soon as they leave the room they are staying in, they’re getting fed and going out the door to do their ministry. So if they don’t take that time at the start of the day, then they won’t get it later on.

Not that you have to get up early or set an alarm. But when you would normally get out of bed an go about your business, instead take 5 or 10 minutes to spend with the Lord first.

Do not despair! :smiley: You would not believe how much company you have. This is so common that, centuries ago, St. Teresa of Jesus – one of the two best teachers ever on prayer – wrote about people whose minds are like “wild horses.”

Two things that I (with an entire herd of those wild horses in my head) have found helpful –

  1. Do not beat yourself up over it; that gets very counter-productive. Just gently pull the horses back onto the road.
  2. When I first tried to start mental prayer, I had to start with just trying to quiet my mind for 10 minutes at a time. I would set a timer, close my eyes, and try to just keep something at the front of my mind, like “be still and know that I am God.” And it really did help train me to let the rest go, and be still interiorly for prayer.

But above all, again, do not despair. God understands our struggles, and our attempts to overcome our difficulties and weaknesses.

Thank you so much for this post. I have been feeling the same way about not praying daily the rosary or going to Adoration once a week. I wake up with a morning offering and the Angelus, but that’s about it to prayer. I’ve thought myself a weak Catholic as I have not felt “drawn” to time in praying the rosary.

It’s good to know others struggling through similar situations and the responses they get from this wonderful community of believers!

OP - Just said a mental prayer for you!

God bless!

+JMJ+

What exactly is a mental prayer? Just a normal prayer but not said out loud?

And I don’t get contemplative prayer at all! What exactly is one supposed to do when engaging in contemplative prayer? I need simple words here!

Contemplative prayer is about being open of mind and heart, and is usually done in silence. For example, sitting comfortably and quietly. It’s a bit odd to get the hang of for most of us, because essentially you think of nothing in particular, “on purpose.”

My spiritual director called it “resting in God.” The idea is that we all have thoughts constantly streaming through our heads at any given moment, and all this becomes a noisy obstacle for the subtle “groanings” of the Spirit to enter the mind and heart. Like when Jesus said, “go into your inner room and pray,” He wasn’t talking about rooms in the house. Most houses were just one room, so there was no “inner room,” so I believe He means to go into a (psychological) place where you can rest, securely, and allow the presence of God to come over us.

By now I’m probably getting pretty abstract. Basically you commit to sitting still and silently, and when you start noticing thoughts in your head, whether it be a “good” or “bad” thought, use one of several simple strategies to let it go and return to consent for God to enter in.

I think it’s actually simpler to do than to try to describe it – because when I did it, other people were telling me what to do. :stuck_out_tongue:

Alan

Good morning, everybody who posted :wave: and thanks especially to anyone who prayed for me. I had a better experience this morning. I woke fairly early - which surprised me because I’d been pretty worn out when I went to sleep, and had a lot of crazy dreams (another reason I seldom feel rested in the morning - my brain’s “Off” switch got lost a long time ago :rolleyes: ).

So I did my stretching and shifting and getting the blood circulating, listened to the others in the house moving about, etc., and thought about having posted this. What I ended up doing was saying some of the prayers from my “collection” and I did have better concentration. I know the Lord knows I want to be closer to Him (tearing up as I type this! :bighanky:) and that somehow through His grace more than my own efforts :newidea: I will get there.

Also yesterday I did some weeding in the yard, which is a meditative contemplative thing, and though I didn’t spend every moment praying, I did now and then pray a “Hail Mary” or just think about God. I’m one of those people who believes that gardening is a great way to get close to God because you’re 1) on your knees a lot, 2) close to the Earth and His beautiful creation, and 3) reminded of the Garden of Eden.

It’s good that all who posted can share their own ways of relating this struggle. I know many people face it. I don’t wish it on anybody but I do need the reminders that it’s not uncommon at all. :grouphug:

St. Teresa is my Confirmation patroness, and I do have her books. I guess I need to read The Interior Castle which would probably help me a lot. :yup: I love her because she is so down-to-earth! (Another garden metaphor . . .:wink: ). Anyway, thanks everyone - keep the great ideas and encouragements coming. :blessyou:

So happy to hear that you found some things that worked for you today. :slight_smile: God bless you!

Doing okay, but sometimes I still am sleepy in the mornings then by the time I wake I am rushing or omitting prayer time. Still trying to turn my attention to God frequently, and remind myself of His blessings and love throughout the day, be sorry for my sins, ask for help (sometimes I forget to do it immediately and end up getting in a dither over various daily frustrations, until :newidea: the light goes on!).

Please pray, and share any similar experiences and we can help one another! Thanks! :grouphug:

I’m glad you’re doing okay. It would be nice if we could flip a switch and make it easier. :o But it sounds like you’re fighting the good fight. That’s the main thing. Never give up. Keep on keeping on.

I find it helpful to have a minimum set of prayers that I will pray every morning. Here are a few good prayers to pray every morning:

MORNING OFFERING OF THE APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER
O 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 holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all our associates, and in particular, for the intention recommended this month by the Holy Father. I wish to gain all the indulgences attached to the prayers I shall say and to the good works I shall perform this day.

ACT OF ADORATION AND THANKSGIVING
Almighty and eternal God, I adore thee, and I thank thee for all the benefits which thou, in thine infinite goodness and mercy, hast conferred upon me. I thank thee especially for having preserved and protected me this night.

ACT OF FAITH
O my God! I firmly believe that thou art one God in three divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; I believe that thy divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead, I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.

ACT OF HOPE
O my God! relying on thine infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.

ACT OF CHARITY
O my God, I love thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because thou art all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for love of thee. I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

ACT OF SUPPLICATION
I beseech thee most earnestly to bless me, that I may serve thee faithfully this day by a perfect devotedness to all my duties and a steadfast adherence to all my promises and good resolutions.

ACT OF CONTRITION
O my God, I am heartily, sorry for having offended thee; and I detest my sins above every other evil, because they displease thee, my God, who for thine infinite goodness art so deserving of all my love; and I firmly resolve, by thine holy grace, never more to offend thee, and to amend my life.

Nice prayers - thanks! :slight_smile:

You are most welcome! :thumbsup:

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