While it is often necessary to overcome general distractions during prayer, from time-to-time there do exist “good” distractions. Our mind can wander during prayer and sometimes God uses that to his ad-vantage. Instead of taking us away from God and his plan, these distractions are designed to help us focus on something or someone and are inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
Often when we pray we may find ourselves thinking about a particular person. Sometimes, we may have not seen this person or talked to them in years. Then the memory bank starts to work and we dwell on the good (and bad) memories. After that, we sense a need to pray for that person.
What started out as a “distraction” from praying our prayers, results in a new prayer for the people who pop into my mind. In this way we can try to imitate St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who explained her approach to “distractions” while talking with a fellow sister,
“I also have many [distractions],” she said, “but as soon as I am aware of them, I pray for those people the thought of whom is diverting my attention, and in this way they reap benefit from my distractions” (Story of a Soul).
Sometimes God wants to divert our attention and shed light on a struggling friend or family member. They may need our prayers or our charity.
On other occasions God could be trying to focus our attention on a decision that we must make or an event that he wants us to attend. The key is to open up our heart. St. Josemaria Escriva instructs us that, “The closer an apostle is to God, the more universal his desires. His heart expands and takes in every-body and everything in its longing to lay the universe at the feet of Jesus” (764, The Way).
We must be open to the different ways that God wants to move us and realize that he may be giving us a distraction to wake us up from our slumber. God also might be wanting us to become more aware of the many challenges of humanity and to offer our prayers, works, joys and sufferings for that intention.
Be attentive and God will show you the way.