Sunday, December 6, 2009

Still Troubled by Thoughts?

Hard Work is Essential

I find that controlling my thoughts to be one of the most difficult aspects of prayer.  No sooner do I begin to pray, a thought pops into my mind.  If I don't respond immediately, then I will find I entertain this thought for quite some time.  It is like watching TV.  Its easier to follow the thought than it is to concentrate on God with thanksgiving and repentance.  Following my thoughts is the lazy way out.

Saint Theophan the Recluse writes the following advice in a letter.
You write that you are having trouble controlling your thoughts; they scatter easily, and praying does not proceed as you wish; and that, in the midst of the day, in the midst of toil and association with others, there is little remembrance of God. 
Instantaneous prayer life is impossible. You must make a strong effort to control your thoughts, at least to some degree. Prayer does not come about as you expect—by just wishing for it, and, suddenly, there it is. This does not happen.
Saint Theophan the Recluse  (from Letter 48)

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