Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Practicing the Jesus Prayer - 6 - Distracted by Thoughts?

You can expect to be bombarded with thoughts like a swarm of gnats. When your mind is distracted from the prayer by thoughts, and it will, be polite and gentle but firmly nudge your mind back to the concentration on the prayer and seeking God. When you recognize your mind is wandering do not let it continue on this path. Don’t accept even good thoughts. Let your soul take charge and move your focus back to the words of the prayer.

It is important to recognize when you are being distracted by thoughts which may occur at the same time as you are saying the prayer. They climb on top of your words and ride piggyback on them. If you don’t intercede immediately to bring your attention back to your prayer exclusively, you will not progress in your aim to come closer to God. When this happens your prayer is no longer sincere but only mechanical. Allow the Spirit working in your soul bring you back to the prayer and continue saying it with sincerity and feeling.

Saint John of the Ladder puts it this way,

Try to restore, or more exactly, to enclose your thought in the words of the prayer. If on account of its infancy, it wearies and wanders, lead it again. The mind is naturally unstable. But He Who orders all things can control it. If you acquire this practice and constantly retain it, He who sets the bounds of the sea of your mind will say to it during your prayer: Hitherto thou shalt come, and shalt go no further (Job 38:11). It is impossible to bind a spirit. But where the Creator of that spirit is present, there everything obeys Him. (Ladder 28:17)

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