When we try to recollect ourselves for mental prayer, it is normal that there will be distractions preventing us from concentrating on the very holy activity we wish to engage in. Methods exist in order to help us in this.
The distractions caused by frivolous things
First of all, if the distractions come from the fact that we spend time doing useless or frivolous things – things which do not serve God’s cause –, then we must start by cutting those things out of our everyday life. By eliminating the source of the problem, these distractions should slowly go away. Of course, also listening to music which is inspired by a spirit of revolt, by sexuality, laxity, etc., is a great nuisance in mental prayer.
The distractions caused by the duties of our state
Then, there are the distractions which concern the good things we do under the gaze of God and our divine Mother. Those distractions are not any more avoidable than the clouds passing over our heads; so we must act with them as we do with clouds, that is, let them go by without allowing them to bother us. On the other hand, when we realize that this is what’s happening, let’s take advantage of this to rekindle the FIRE, revitalizing our upsurge towards the Truth which is Love (always doing so with suavity).
“My God, I believe that you can do all things, grant that I may love you more than all else.”
An apparent waste of time
If we do not have any worthwhile idea during our time of mental prayer, any particular feeling concerning divine things, we can read a passage from a book and then, in silence, think about what we have read, with the purpose of motivating our heart, foster a desire which would become an upsurge of love and prompt us to give ourselves more to God, take one more step in faith, humility and generosity.
It can also be helpful to recite slowly a nice prayer already existing, letting ourselves be imbued with the good sentiments expressed in it.
When we are happy to be close to God, next to the Blessed Sacrament, happy to love or be loved by Him, let’s stay detached from trying to seek anything, simply remaining there next to the FIRE, and God will change us without our realizing it. Let the clouds of all kinds of distractions pass by, calmly keeping our interior gaze fixed on Love for as long as this state lasts.
If the distractions persist so much that they always prevent us from recollecting ourselves and benefiting from our mental prayer, that is perhaps because we are too tired. Then, we should try to rest more in order to see the difference.
Illness can hinder our mental prayer, making it harder to recollect oneself. Let’s nevertheless persist in this holy practice, and God will reward us for it.
Carefully choose the appropriate time
It is important to know that there are times in the day which are more favorable than others in order to practise mental prayer. Mental prayer is often more difficult in the middle of the day when we’re involved in all kinds of activities, whereas it can become, oddly enough, much easier and pleasant during the night, late in the evening or early in the morning, at times when nature and human beings are resting. Jesus and Marie-Paule liked to pray during the night and especially very early in the morning.
Mental prayer can be accompanied by aridity (or dryness), that is to say, that we feel like the earth during a period of drought, when nothing seems to want to grow or bear fruit. This can be normal at times, even when we have done all we possibly could to practise well mental prayer. Then, the secret lies in perseverance. Sometimes, God brings about such periods of aridity to purify our hearts from attachments or our seeking things which may be harmful to our spiritual life. When the trial is over, we will realize just how much, interiorly, “the air is purer after the storm”, for our soul will again be flooded with beneficial waters which are much purer than before.
- I Want to See God by Father Marie Eugène de l'Enfant-Jésus, pp. 234-248.
- Spiritual Letter Box on prayer by Marie-Paule Giguère: Click here.