I admit I am not the most focused when I pray. It seems like as soon as I get down on my knees, everything that I was trying to think of the entire day (week) pops into my head.
Oh, I forgot to…
I should have…
What is she wearing?
I would never do that.
I don’t think I am the only one that gets distracted in prayer, but it’s something I work on (a lot).
These are a few things that help me.
1. Close your eyes.
This is sort of obvious. I see little kids praying, and they always close their eyes.
This immediately cuts any distraction from vision. (Now, if people could just be quiet…)
Honestly, closing your eyes eliminates the use of one of our senses, and it eliminates things in our line of sight to think about.
Try it. It helps.
2. Pray slowly. Speak prayers out loud. Slow down.
It’s super easy to rattle off a prayer in your head.
It’s easy to skip words, too, or have them all just flow together.
Instead, write them. Or speak them slowly. Pause where commas are in the prayer. Stop at periods.
It’s OK to repeat sentences, too. Remember, you’re talking to God (Jesus or Mary or Joseph or …). They’re all so patient.
They have time to listen to us. They are not rushed friends or husbands (wives, bosses, coworkers…). They’re in Heaven, and they’re waiting for us.
3. Repetition is key.
Three times means you really mean it. That’s why we say things three times during the liturgy.
Getting bored with the Rosary? It’s a lot of Hail Marys.
Well, ease into the words. Try to imagine being there when Mary was greeted and told the good news.
Try to imagine Elizabeth.
Yes, there are mysteries to meditate on as well. Bored with those?
Think of the smallest detail. For example, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
What was she wearing? Were her eyes closed? Imagine watching her being taken into Heaven.
When we repeat words and prayers, it’s easier to imagine those things because we aren’t thinking about the words anymore.
Contrary to #2, it’s OK to glide over the words to see the bigger picture (sometimes).
4. Write it out.
I mentioned writing down prayers in #2.
But also, write down your personal petitions. I used to (and want to start again) keep a running list during the days of my little wishes or of people who needed Jesus’ mercy (everyone!).
Seriously, though, we see people that we don’t know, but we know they could use prayers (again, everyone). Write it down.
I used an index card when I did this earlier in my life. Then at the end of the day, I’d unfold the card and say a Hail Mary (or any prayer) for each individual.
We don’t always have to pray for ourselves or just people directly in our lives.
Remember to get your loved ones that have died on the list, too. After you pray for them, ask them to pray for you.
5. Silence isn’t bad.
So you finished your prayers really fast, quick like a bunny (obviously you didn’t read earlier numbers in this list).
OK, now what? It’s too soon to get off the kneeler in Church.
Keep your eyes closed, and just ask for peace, wisdom, charity, anything. Ask for reason. Ask for focus during Mass.
This is good to do if you’re praying at home, too. Ask Jesus to help you focus while you’re praying.
Then, just wait.
Try to empty your mind. God can’t always fit in among your grocery list, work schedule and phone bill. Let it all go.
I visualize leaving my problems and issues at the foot of the cross. I imagine setting down my electric bill at the foot of the cross. I imagine shedding my body image issues at the foot of the cross.
Each thing, I put there individually.
Then I breathe. And I wait.