Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dealing with distractions

Do you find that when you decide to spend time in prayer you are bedevilled with distractions? The phone rings, a pneumatic drill starts up across the street, there's someone at the door, the kids burst in, you think of a task unfinished, you become sidetracked into thinking about a particularly nasty crime or you can't stop worrying about your children.

You are not alone. listen to what the sevententh century poet and divine, Joah Donne says:

I throwe my selfe downe in my Chamber, and I call in, and invite God, and his Angels thither, and when they are there, I neglect God and his Angels, for the noise of a Flie, for the rattling of a Coach, for the whining of a doore...A memory of yesterdays pleasures, a feare of tomorrows dangers, a straw under my knee, a noise in mine eare, a light in mine eye, an any thing, a nothing, a fancy, a Chimera in my braine, troubles me in prayer.

Despite the odd spelling and punctuation, he was just like us. And he was Dean of St Pauls.

Are there remedies? Certainly. Separate yourself from all electronic devices. Allow the answering machine to deal with the telephone. Keep a notepad and pencil by your side and note down any stray thought. Capturing it on paper lays it aside until later. Finally, turn distractions into prayer. If they, rather than prayer, are what demands your attention, then those are the things you really want to pray about. If you think that you ought to be praying about orphans in Darfur, but you can't stop thinking about your children's exam results, then pray about your children's exams. Don't be so high minded. Your heavenly Father wants to speak to the real you, not some bogus act you are putting on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am just dealing with learning I need treatment for my newly discovered CLL. I love John Donne and found great comfort in 'I have a sin of fear' when I was diagnosed early this year. Now, here I am, teacher, artists, worship leader and not afraid to die but so afraid of treatment and all the hassle with performing my job responsibly when I am so confused - thats why I like your blog - I just found it while trying to find out what treatment means! I want to be real in my prayers and I want to live! But what does it mean to walk this path? And how do I pray for healing when I don't really believe it has happened?