Distractions While Praying

There is another thing which greatly afflicts those who give themselves to prayer. It is the distractions which often come and carry their thoughts, and their hearts too, hither and thither. . . . In such cases, we must recall our thoughts from time to time, by reviving our faith in the presence of God, and by remaining before Him with reverence and respect. If we do not succeed in fixing them on the prescribed point, we must bear those annoyances and vexations with humility and patience. It will not be lost time, as at first sight it may appear, but such a prayer will sometimes be more fruitful than many others made with recollection and pleasure. For, all the actions performed to banish or to endure these distractions, as they are done in order not to displease God, and to become better qualified for His service, are so many acts of the love of God. -St. Teresa

St. Jane Frances de Chantal gave this advice to her daughters, which she surely also practised herself. “When one is disturbed by distractions in the time of prayer, it is well to make the prayer of patience, and to say, if possible, humbly and lovingly: O Lord, Thou art the sole support of my soul, and all my consolation!”

St. John Chrysostom advised one who was easily carried away by distractions, to arouse himself by this comparison: “What! I stand talking with a friend about news, trifles, reports, and I am all attention; now that I am conversing with God about the pardon of my sins, and the way for me to be saved, I am all torpor! Though my knees are bent, my mind goes wandering through the house and through the streets! Where is my faith? where, my reason?”

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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