In today’s world, the ability to multi-task is not only a nice-to-have skill, but a mandatory requirement, especially for those in the workforce. I’m wondering however, is it really just doing multiple tasks, or is it more being distracted by multiple resources vying for our attention at the same time?
I have met a few people who are really talented enough to be able to focus at working on their computer while listening to a conversation that has no connection to the topic on which they are working. They are, indeed, rare and gifted folks. Most of us do some sort of what we call multi-tasking, working on one thing and thinking about another. What I’ve noticed is that multi-tasking has started to creep into my prayer life. I try so hard to focus, but there are times, when I end up thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner while I’m saying my morning prayers. Sometimes I have been able to backtrack to discover how I ended up thinking about something so totally different. Usually it starts with me trying to keep a person in mind and raise them up to God for assistance, and it triggers some memory, which then gets me thinking about something else, and the next thing I know, I’ve added three more items to my grocery list, when all I was trying to do was say my rosary!
Prayer is our time to communicate with God. We are to take time out of our day — 5, 15, or 30 minutes, and immerse ourselves in His presence. Whether we read from a daily prayer book or the Bible, say a rosary or just open ourselves up to Him, there are many ways to pray; the important thing is to take the time to be with God. He knows that we will have distractions; be it the cat that wants to play, the neighbor’s noisy car, or the rain pelting the windows. It can be difficult to concentrate just with all the noise of the world around us. But the biggest distraction is our own brain. In an age where everyone is using a mobile device to get the most updated whatever, our mind is on alert for the next ping, constantly working and filling the silence in between. It can feel as though God is not near us, when it may actually be that we aren’t paying attention to God at all.
The real skill is to practice praying without distraction. Lent is a good opportunity to step away from technology or whatever may be causing our distractions, and to practice quieting the mind and being in God’s presence. Perhaps we should pray, “Lord, help me to quiet the noise and draw closer to your peace so that I can concentrate and hear You.” With God’s help and consistent practice, we may be able to hone the skill needed to cultivate a deeper relationship with Him.