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Archive for January 23rd, 2022

I find that I am like that dog in the Disney movie, Up. I am completely focused on a task (or really, really wanting to be focused on a task), when my attention is diverted by some sort of ‘squirrel’ which completely sidetracks my original intent.

This seems to be the worst when I pick up my phone to do a specific task. Maybe I want to send an email, but, when I turn the phone on, I see that I received a text, so I open that app. Then I remember that I hadn’t posted anything on Instagram, so I open that app. Then, I see a product advertised that looks interesting, so I click to see the cost (then I go to my Amazon app to see if I can get it cheaper there. Then I remember I was looking for one of those garlic crushers that look like a pastry blender. Then I remember the email, so I open that app to see another email, with a word I am not sure of it’s meaning, so I open Safari to google it …

Two hours later I put my phone down with the prevailing thought,

what did I pick my phone up for?

This is often what it is like when I try to spend time in prayer.

I read the words of the Psalmist (42:1):

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”

and I think, yes, that is how I feel. Yet, when I sit alone in prayer, it is often more like:

As a deer (oh, I should go put water in the dog’s dish) pants (hum, I wonder why there’s a rattle when I breath … I should Google it now, so I don’t forget) for flowing (do I hear a faucet dripping? I better go check) streams (I better go to the bathroom, because if God gets comical in my prayer time … well giggling with a full bladder can be catastrophic), so pants (ugh! These pants have dirt on them, I better go change them now, because I know that if I don’t do it now, I will end up showing my dirt all over town later) …

and so ends my prayer time, because I went into another room, only to find metaphorical squirrels everywhere!

So, what does one who has the attention span the size of a gnat do? How does one have prayer time when every single thought, every single word diverts our attention away from the one to whom we are praying?

I have picked up the Lord’s Prayer as a regular intro to my prayer time.

It is rote. I learned it in memorization when I was young, so it is something I do not have to consciously think about to pray. Squirrels don’t enter in at all, for my ritual of recitation needs to come to it’s expected end.

I repeat it, sometimes multiple times, until I have firmly got the blinders on to ward off the distractions.

I concentrate on it. Once I have slowed my brain, so that is void of distractibility (this doesn’t always happen), I focus my thoughts on the words I am praying, changing words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ to ‘me’ and ‘I’.

Somedays, this little ritual prepares me for concentrated time in prayer with God. Time when I am completely focused solely on that one thing. Sometimes, this prayer is all I get to … and that is okay, for it is dense in meaning and relevance … remember this is the prayer taught to us by Jesus himself!

Remember too that God hears our hearts, even in the rote words. That he wants to hear from us. That we need to connect with him.

So, if you’re fighting to keep your focus on Him, if there is a squirrel infestation in your mind, give this a try.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed (honored) be your name;
your kingdom come;
your will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses (sins),
as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

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