Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wandering Thoughts in Prayer

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This week, the Lord refreshed me in many ways.  He continues to clarify his words to me as I continually seek him, especially in the area concerning his rest.  It’s an area that deserves diligence, and is not easy to come by.  The doorway, I’m learning, to entering his rest is a desire for his presence.  A piece of God’s refreshing came through “The Practice of the Presence of God,” a collection of conversations and letters from Brother Lawrence (c. 1614 – 12 February 1691), a lay brother in a Carmelite monastery in Paris.

In Brother Lawrence’s EIGHTH LETTER, he addresses the issue of wandering thoughts in prayer.  Everyone struggles with this; I am no exception.  It’s a constant battle in the mind to keep focus on the Lord's presence.  We know God is omnipresent, but as Brother Lawrence writes, we should also invite Him into our daily "business."  Brother Lawrence’s words confirm what my spirit seeks, and they encourage the path to know God’s presence in a real and tangible way.  My desire is for God’s presence to be evident to me in every way, even in the most mundane tasks.  Of course, we all have moments where we struggle with wandering thoughts in prayer.  So, I pray these words from Brother Lawrence encourage you.  Blessings!

Concerning wandering thoughts in prayer. YOU tell me nothing new: you are not the only one that is troubled with wandering thoughts. Our mind is extremely roving; but as the will is mistress of all our faculties, she must recall them, and carry them to GOD, as their last end.

When the mind, for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection, at our first engaging in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, they are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth.

I believe one remedy for this is, to confess our faults, and to humble ourselves before GOD. I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer; many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering: hold yourself in prayer before GOD, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man's gate: let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the LORD. If it sometimes wander, and withdraw itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that; trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind, than to re-collect it; the will must bring it back in tranquility; if you persevere in this manner, GOD will have pity on you.

One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far at other times: you should keep it strictly in the presence of GOD; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings.

I have told you already at large, in my former letters, of the advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of GOD: let us set about it seriously and pray for one another.

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