Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Work of Overcoming Boredom

One of the most difficult types of spiritual work that we must do is to resist boredom in our spiritual practices. Once we make the commitment to know God and are following a rule we have established with our spiritual father's approval, we need great strength to stick with it. When it comes time for prayer we will find ourselves battling with forces to keep us away from it.  We will be too tired, or too busy with work or other leisure activities. We easily rationalize by giving priority to all other things, even watching a mind numbing TV show.

Once in prayer the forces of boredom do not stop, they increase. If we are still praying in the mind, our mind will tire or become bored with the prayer and begin to entertain all other kinds of thoughts. It will act like a butterfly shifting from thought to thought while the words of our prayer are gong on in the background of our mind.  This is no longer prayer.

Boredom also applies to those times when we are supposed to go to Liturgy. We find ourselves making excuses to stay away. "Its my only day off and I need some rest."  Frequently, we hear the excuse that the liturgy is always the same. Or another is "I can pray anywhere even here in my own bed."  These excuses are an indication of a severe case of boredom. 

When our spiritual life is overtaken by boredom, we will find we prefer to doing almost anything to praying, going to Liturgy, fasting or reading Scripture. Instead we will seek to fill our time with idle conversation, entertainment with TV, Internet, electronic games and so forth.

The problem is that we have not properly organized our personal life to include a balance of activities that include work, family, play and spiritual practice. If we do not have an ordered life, we will find we will be easily attacked by boredom.
What is the solution? Making a commitment to avoid the distracting activities. A firm rule combined with patience is needed. It is a struggle as we are engaged in signal warfare. We have to be prepared for a battle and put our total effort to win this battle. Otherwise, the negative forces of the world will defeat you, and your desire to be united with God will remain only a remote possibility.

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