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Question 117.

 

Dear Fr Christopher,

Why it is more difficult to maintain good thoughts than to produce them?
Why is it so easy for the mind to be distracted by other thoughts when praying?
Is there a spiritual way to train the mind to concentrate totally on God when praying, so that nothing from the exterior environment can enter our minds?

Regards, John

Answer to Question 117.

 

Dear John,

Keeping the mind concentrated on prayer is not an easy task and it is natural in our fallen human state for the mind to continually be distracted with other thoughts. This can be a result of our own doing due to lack of experience or can be temptations to break our thought on prayer. The only way to overcome this is by not paying attention to the thoughts, in other words not to converse with the thoughts, but as soon as you become aware that the mind has wandered to bring it back and continue in prayer. With perseverance you will learn how to keep the mind in prayer for longer periods and there will come a time when you will recognize the thoughts as temptation but you will be able to dispel them before they make an image in your mind. This is an advance state of prayer which cannot be reached without the grace of God.

When I first came to know the church and the Jesus Prayer, I came across a small booklet by Bishop Kallistos Ware called "The Power of the Name". It helped me greatly to understand how to pray. I found the booklet online in PDF format and have attached it to this email. Read it and I'm sure it will help you in the answer of your question.

 

In Christ

Fr. Christopher