Friday, June 26, 2009

The Importance of Attention in Prayer

Our minds are like wild beasts. We must learn to control their tendency to wander. In prayer absolute attention on the prayer and God is essential. You may notice how even during your normal activities during the day you are easily distracted. You probably find this even more noticeable when you are trying to pray. Harnessing the mind for effective prayer requires hard work.

Attention Requires Hard Work
Saint Theophan tell us,
"Lasting pacification of the thoughts is a gift from God, but this gift is not given without intensifying one's personal labors."
Just because we have made time for our morning and evening prayer and are praying, God will not quiet our minds for us. We must act to bring our mind to attention and then He will assist us.

Saint Macarius the Great says,
"Let him push himself to prayer even when he does not possess the prayer of the Spirit. And so. God, seeing him striving so and pushing himself by determination, even if the heart is unwilling, gives him the authentic prayer of the Spirit gives him true charity, true meekness, "the bowels of mercies" (Col 3:12), true kindness, and, simply put, fills him with the fruits of the Spirit." Homily 19.3

It is through our striving and forcing ourselves that God will see that we are giving our best effort to restrain ourselves and to do good. Seeing this He will grant us true prayer and our striving will become effortless. Therefore, if we allow our mind to wander and taste of its own delights and we do not make any effort to contain it, God will see that we are not prepared for His full grace. How can He have confidence that we will be capable to do good with it if it were given?

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