Last week during my morning prayer, I fell asleep. First, I felt God shaking his head at me in great displeasure. Second, I felt like Peter, James and John in the garden of Gethsemane before Jesus’ Passion.
I’m sure you have heard the story but while Jesus was in so much agony that he was sweating blood, these three apostles fell asleep. Jesus said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough. The hour has come. Behold the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.” – Mark 14:41
Hey sleepyheads, I’m about to go die for you and every other person to ever breath so please wake up. Jesus was experiencing Hematohidrosis, a very rare medical condition in which the capillary blood vessels rupture due to extreme physical or emotional stress. This anxiety was the worst he ever faced, yet He but remained entirely patient and loving!
God gets so excited when we make time to silence ourselves, read His word, listen to His voice, worship, and pay attention to Him alone. But falling short is what humans excel in and on that day, that included me falling back into dream mode. Smack. in. the. face.
Sleeping is only one of the ways that I get off track some mornings when I intend to talk quietly and intimately with my Savior. I love soaking up information. I’m basically a sponge to anything on the topic of faith. Blogs, podcasts, videos of speakers, Spotify, lyric videos, books, devotionals, etc. I like it all and I have a fear that if I do not stay connected to every ounce of information that these channels produce, I could miss something very important.
Sounds ridiculous, right? Annie’s words couldn’t be more true: “Don’t read too much or it becomes too much to think about.” So I try that and my thoughts run wild. I need to get gas before work, my bananas are getting ripe…what shall I bake with them, I need to get a blanket before I can read another word and then I’ll be all set to listen to you God, I promise!
It is a very good thing that His covenant is new and everlasting because I struggle to hold up my end of the bargain. Some days are great and other days, I have 9 tabs open on my laptop, am thinking about fixing my chipped nails and barely hone in on the Lord before I need to get out the door.
Whatever forms your distractions come in, Satan is behind it all. This is not a scare tactic but a truth. Satan is real and smart, real smart. He has a lot of experience and has too many success stories taking beautiful children away from God. God never stops fighting for us but He can’t force us to return to His loving arms. Our efforts are necessary, oh so necessary.
Are we ever going to be disturbance free and mega holy all the time with the angels and saints dancing over us in excitement that Satan has absolutely no power over us? That is highly unlikely. But what is highly likely is that if we ask God to dismiss all of the ways that take our attention away from Him, He will answer. God craves our sole attention. He will provide a way.
Beyond removing myself from too many resources (I save those for later in the day) and praying that God may run His thoughts in my mind, here are two additional methods for keeping my focus in the Light. I can’t guarantee that these will crush your diversions but try it out if you are willing!
1. Space: Clean it up or change it up.
If the place where you want to fully concentrate on God is a mess, there is a good chance that you won’t respect your worship space. Clutter in your physical area causes clutter in your mind. By having everything around you in the right place, you can place your heart in the right place.
Your usual space does not have to be permanent. Mix it up! I usually sit on the ground of my bedroom but moving to the kitchen table, living room couch, outside balcony or church for Eucharistic Adoration or mass enlivens my concentration. New environments also stimulates different thoughts so I now force myself to move around.
2. Sight: Remove it.
Congratulations, you now have four senses! So my suggestion is not awfully extreme but I do encourage you to limit your vision in order to fixate on the Lord. It is said that people who lose a sense (medically – not my version) gain intensity in another sense in return. I see this trade-off occurring with my sight and my hearing. When I close my eyes to turn off the world around me, I can listen for God’s direction for me with more clarity.
The same holds true for when I take off my glasses. I normally wear contacts but not in the mornings. Ever since I fell asleep in my room of Gethsemane, I like to take them off and gently toss them across the room so I won’t be tempted to put them back on. I have never met a person with worse vision than me so this method never fails to make me fully engaged in God’s message. I can see clearly now the
rain is gone Holy Spirit has come!