Unwanted (Impure) thoughts during prayer


#1

Another member was expressing to me a sadness and fear regarding their suffering with impure thoughts while looking at a crucifix and other holy images.I decided that this deserved it’s own thread.

The mind has a way of thinking about the very thing we fear the most. What can be more frightening than having impure thoughts about nuns, statues, The Blessed Virgin, and even… “you know who”… (I can’t even bring myself to type the words). Especially people who suffer from scrupulosity can suffer from the most blasphemous, impure thoughts during prayer.

Should we therefore avoid holy images? No! We should face the fear head on and realize that God knows about this too. He knows that these thoughts are unwanted. He is far more upset that there are people who never pray or go to Mass. He knows your heart and your struggle with unwanted thoughts. He loves us even with all of our defects!

Fr. Thomas M. Santa, author of “Understanding Scrupulosity”, calls these unwanted thoughts “mosquitos in the mind”. These thoughts are in no way sinful and they are far more common than you might think. Fear of punishment and sin working in the back of our minds does this. What happens is that while looking at a crucifix our sins are brought forward in our mind.

It doesn’t take the brain long to attach this fear to our sins of impurity and the holy image. The careful person who is always on guard against sin… trying their best NOT to have an impure thought about Holy People and here we go! …that’s all it takes!

Suppose I offered you a million dollars to NOT think about carrots for the next 24 hours. What is the FIRST think you are going to think about? … uh… carrots! You might even start to obsess about them.

Good devout people have denied themselves Holy Communion for decades because they are too embarassed to bring this up in confession and they believe that they are in a state of mortal sin. Satan thinks this is extremely funny, This isn’t even a sin because the thoughts are unwanted. They are driven strictly by worry and fear!

The best thing to do when this happens during prayer, whenever… is to immediately ask God to help you. "Dear Lord, please tell that knuckehead Satan to knock it off, he’s at it again! "
People are really embarassed to admit that this happens to them, but it is far more common than you think.

:wink:


#2

Father, in Jesus’ name, please give Your people faith, hope, love, forgiveness, courage, purity, and peace. Thank You, Father


#3

Good advice! :slight_smile:


#4

Praying with you for peace during prayer…


#5

Good post. It’s not a sin when we’re tempted or have impure thoughts, it’s how we act while or after we have them. Ask our Lord to vanquish these thoughts and move on to something else…Prayer or Scripture…By continuing to entertain these thoughts or if we’re responsible for them only makes it worse…

Will pray for all to learn how to control and manage these thoughts…


#6

In their writings Saint Faustina and Saint Teresa of Avila talked about how, they, at one point struggled with these temptations.

In her Diary, Saint Faustina talks about having these kind of attacks while attending mass. Maybe it will do your friend good to read her Diary and Saint Teresa’s writings. Saint Teresa of Avila wrote to her sisters, that as one prayed the mind was like a wild horse, that one had to try and tame. But that the soul was always still in the right place, so not to worry too much about the mind.


#7

The impure cannot stand the pure. Make a beautiful picture of Our Blessed Lady in your mind. Imagine she is beside you then pray.

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of our death.
Amen


#8

When I read the post the first thing that came to my mind were impure thoughts! But I’ll continuing praying that these thoughts don’t have any affect on me. They are just a reminder that Satan does exist and we must be on guard at all times (which is part of why we pray anyway).


#9

Same here. Makes me wonder (only half jokingly) it homilies shouldn’t consist of the priest shouting, “Don’t think of Jesus! Don’t look to the Holy Mother for a life model! Whatever you do, don’t humble yourself before God!”

Paul


#10

Sorry to bump a dead thread but…

I had this problem for quite some time now, but not just during prayers, during other daily activites as well, and it’s constantly reducing my concentration and rendering me unable to focus on other things (due to the thoughts popping up in my mind all the time).

And this confused me:

It doesn’t take the brain long to attach this fear to our sins of impurity and the holy image. The careful person who is always on guard against sin… trying their best NOT to have an impure thought about Holy People and here we go! …that’s all it takes!

Trying my best not to have the thoughts, only makes it harder to not get rid of them. Would it be considered as a sin, if I put no effort into getting rid of the impure thoughts? I realize that it’s not up to me whether would such thoughts appear in the first place, but I COULD try to make them stop (which I’ve been doing all this time) and that’s not worked so far.


#11

Sorry for bumping an old thread, but I need to ask something on this subject.

I’ve had this problem for quite some time now, and not just during prayers, but throughout all the daily activities which often reduces my concentration and renders me unable to focus on other thing.

I understand that I can’t stop these thoughts from popping up and that that is not considered sinful since I can’t stop it from happening in the first place, but…from what I understood from the original poster, the best way to suppress these thoughts is to get rid of the fear that causes them to appear to begin with. Just “forcefully” trying to reject the thoughts will just make them appear more intensively. It’s impossible to do it that way - I know because I’ve tried many times. I might be able to stop them in that particular moment, but they’ll just kick in again later. For instance, I’m completely unable to focus on my school studies due to this problem.

So, would it be considered sinful if I just let the impure thoughts go, without putting any effort into trying to forcefully reject them? I guess a part of my mind that causes them to appear would figure that I don’t care anymore, and would eventually stop producing them.

I’d appreciate an answer. Thanks.


#12

Thanks for this post. It’s nice to know it is a common thing.
Great advice, too.
:tiphat:


#13

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.
Amen.


#14

Thank you for this helpful post

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.

Amen.


#15

Would it be sinful to just let the impure thoughts roll on? I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow them to roll without interruption. When they occur, just say to yourself and God:

“Here I go again God! You know this junk isn’t in my heart. It’s in my silly mixed up head. Please remove my fear of these stupid thoughts and let them fade away whenever you wish, and allow me to do your will today!”

We always tend to think about what we fear the most. Obsessive compulsive disorder can feed these fears too. The best thing to do is not worry about them. Give this to God. He knows your heart.


#16

:blessyou: My brother is 18 and was diagnosed with OCD about 3 years ago has been having a lot of trouble with these unpure thoughts, along with thinking that he is worshipping the devil if questions are asked about him, and constant praying throughout the day and night. We have taken him to our parish priest to see if he can put anything into his mind to show him that this is not wrong, and though we love our priest very much, it did not seem to get through my brothers head, and he is getting worst with every day.

Anyways,I just wanted to say a thank you for posting this for I am going to print it out and let him read it. hopefully it will allow him to have a better concept of these thoughts. Also if anyone else knows where I can get more information on this topic, I would be very grateful!!!

God Bless!!


#17

Hi,

I'm sorry for bumping an old thread, but I really, REALLY wanted to thank TLM08 for taking the time to create this thread. I've struggled with this problem for years (I do have OCD) and didn't know how to go about handling it and, in all honesty, thought I must be the only person to have such horrid thoughts popping into my head especially when praying, looking at holy images, or reading the Bible. It had gotten to the point where I no longer wanted to even pray or read the Bible because I just felt wracked with guilt over the whole thing. Actually, I did stop reading the Bible and my prayers just became shorter and shorter. Almost to the point I don't even pray anymore.

It's even made me feel completely unworthy of seeking out a partner, always thinking I'm not good enough or worthy enough of anyone especially a Christian man since I've had such horrible thoughts enter my mind. Which is why I'm unmarried and a virgin at nearly 26.

Today, after a struggle, I finally looked it up online (I'd never thought to do this before assuming I was some horrible awful person) and I was a bit worried because for two hours all I could find were people having impure thoughts regarding lust. So, thank you again TLM08. I think my mind will FINALLY be put to rest. And now when I go to church, I won't be on the verge of a panic attack or feel like some dirty wretch for even daring to enter the building. I can probably feel more confident when I pick up my Bible again and start praying in earnest instead rushing through it, hoping I get through the prayer while having only good thoughts.

Thanks again; I've never felt so much relief in my life. I actually cried when I read it, I was so beyond relieved. And to think Satan has been laughing his head off while I struggle with it and put myself down over it. I know I've said thanks a lot already, but I'm just so grateful beyond words. Thanks!! :D

edit: I had no idea the original poster was banned, I was so relieved to read the post. Anyway, my gratefulness still stands and I'm sad they won't get to read it. And I hope it doesn't get me banned. I'm sorry, but I was just so happy to read it, I had to post something.


#18

I'm so glad that I found this post. I have been suffering from these terrible thoughts during prayer too. I have come back to the Catholic church this past year after being away for MANY years. I am joyfully immersed in prayer, I go to Mass several times a week, I pray the Rosary and Chaplet of St. Michael daily, and have even joined the choir. Satan is really ticked that I abandoned my former secular life and that I have embraced a more religious life: Hense the blasphemous intrusive thoughts during prayer. I will try to picture blowing him back into hell with a missle launcher. Also, could you all pray for me too? The power of prayer is immense. I will also see about Eucharistic Adoration too. Maybe that will help as well.


#19

thank you TLM08. back when I started to try to avoid the “Self Love” sin, everytime I had a urge to “self love” myself I would try to think of the virgin Mary and pray…only to see the clothing disappear in my head:eek::blush:. I FELT WORSE THEN A SERIAL KILLER. I kept on having to reprocess images constantly just so that I don’t have a naked mother of Jesus in my head. I felt that as long as I fought it off I didn’t need to confess since I didn’t like obsess over the images. There’s another one which I dare not say in full but in has to do with a certain Lord and certain body parts. I’m just going to leave it at that.


#20

Glad to know I’m not the only one who suffers with these sorts of issues. I have impure thoughts whenever I try to imagine hanging out with Jesus. Haven’t dealt with this my whole life. I thought I had just become unsaved and satan could just now interject whatever images he liked. I hang on to a thread of hope that maybe God can still love me.


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