” When the mind, for want of being sufficiently reduced by recollection at our first engaging in devotion, has contracted certain bad habits of wandering and dissipation, they are difficult to overcome, and commonly draw us, even against our wills, to the things of the earth. I believe the remedy for this is to confess our faults and to humble ourselves before God.”
I concur with Brother Lawrence (I’m sure he’s unimpressed) when he writes that we have a tendency to become ever more distracted when we give ourselves the freedom to focus on that which distracts us. The further we stray, the more challenging it becomes to pull ourselves back to God, to put aside self recrimination, or to keep from wilfully entertaining distraction in favour of placing ourselves in His Presence once more.
“I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer; many words and long discourses being often the occasions of wandering. Hold yourself in prayer before God, like a dumb or paralytic beggar at a rich man’s gate. Let it be your business to keep your mind in the presence of the Lord. If it sometimes wanders and withdraws itself from Him, do not much disquiet yourself for that: trouble and disquiet serve rather to distract the mind than to re-collect it: the will must bring it back in tranquility. If you persevere in this manner, God will have pity on you”
How many times have I tried to hoodwink God with mock piety, babbling on in prayer like a baby before it’s doting parent, who listens intently all the while knowing that not one dicernable word is spoken!
As one who is prone to lengthy posts and just as lengthy responses outside the realm of cyberspace, it is a novel concept to grasp, that if 10 words can adequately express a thought, then the other 100 may just possibly be superflous. Oh yes, I need the Lord to take pity on me, but I also need to guard myself against my wordy, prideful, too highly considered, ‘prayerful’ outpourings. With God, words aren’t even necessary and yet time and again, I have deliberated over which words to use to express a thought or feeling, all the while ignoring the fact that God knows everything anyway and that He isn’t at all impressed with my multiplicity of words, though my attempts at prayerful grandeur may indeed cause Him some amusement!