I am not sure when it happened. I want to say around Lent, I started noticing that all my prayer was distracted. All of it. There is not a prayer or meditation where don’t I miss half of what I’m supposed to be doing because my mind was elsewhere. When I notice this, I turn my attention back to the prayer, back to Christ’s loving gaze or the Spirit’s glow.
But also I’m not sure if I like waffles anymore, I’m going to punch that woman who’s holding up the project, I wish so hard that downstairs would stop yelling at her child like that please God help this family and my ankle hurts again. Why can’t I exercise like I used to?
“…art thou amongst women, & blessed is the fruit of thy womb…” WILL I DIE ALONE?
It’s that bad. It’s worse.
But I don’t stop doing it.
An hour a day. I wake up an hour earlier than I need to because I know, I know if I wait until everything calms down, I’ll drop dead asleep & I won’t do it. And I need to do it. Even if I do it badly.
I know this is a dry period. I know that all the things on my plate are slowly getting eaten. The elephant is almost gone. I’m just down to the ears & the trunk. Once the last bite of the elephant is gone…there will of course be another elephant to eat. And I will eat him one bite at a time, also.
(If you’ve never heard that saying, that last paragraph is super gross.)
What I am trying to say is that you absolutely must not worry if your prayer is distracted, if every time you’re trying to listen to God, he’s interrupted by your dumb head. He gets it. He was human. He knows.
Have you ever been to lunch with someone who is a truly busy person (not just LA busy) like a doctor or a mom or a producer (who is LA busy, but they really are getting urgent calls) & instead of getting mad, you just think, “It’s pretty amazing this person is trying to have lunch with me, considering how slammed they are”? Now you have some idea that God still loves you even though you suck as a listener.
God is just chuffed that you came to lunch with him.
Now, lunch would be more enjoyable if you put down your phone or, better yet, turned on DND. But God knows you have a lot going on. He’s seen your Twitter feed & all your vaguebooking, except, unlike your friends, he actually knows what you’re not talking about.
Eventually my ability to focus will return. Meanwhile, that hour of distracted prayer is keeping me from becoming the literal worst.
Would you also like to not be the worst? You can start by using an app like Hallow, which is sort of like Audible for prayer:
There are other apps, too, but this is the one I wish I owned stock in, as I use it so much. Even the free version has a ton of content.
You can also engage in contemplative walks, or just motionless contemplation, & just ask the Holy Spirit to come. You’d be amazed at what God can show you, even with the noise in your head.
Going to Mass is never a bad idea, as you’re praying with everyone else, and that can carry you when you’re dragging. I know that a few of you who read these have never attended a Mass, but I invite you to ask God to show you a safe opportunity to participate in the fullness and absolute mystery of the Mass.
Watch some Masses online! Dip your toes. It’s okay if you have no idea what the heck is going on. Nobody does at first. Eventually, everybody figures out the rhythm. It doesn’t take as long as you think.
Turn your daydreams into prayers. “God, I would love a husband, I think. God, I want to make films. God, I want to build a car from scratch. God, I fantasize about quitting my job. God, what if unicorns were still around? Wait, were they ever real?”
You can talk to God about thoughts that scare you, too. In fact, nobody can handle that better than God (though God may also provide an opportunity for you to go to a support group or therapy).
I am bad a prayer right now, sure. But the worst prayer is the one never started. He knows what we know, but we sometimes don’t. Invite him to show it to you.