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Overcoming distractions when praying the rosary

Posted by Jeannie Ewing on

Ghirelli Rosaries Ways to Avoid Distractions when praying the RosaryDo you ever find yourself with the “best laid plans” of praying the rosary regularly, only to discover, day after day, that it didn’t happen – again? It can be aggravating when your intention is based on a sincere desire to deepen your relationship with God through a very powerful, timeless prayer. The rosary has universal appeal, precisely because it is one way we can learn authentic Christian meditation.

But if you, like me, find yourself swimming in a mélange of distractions, the temptation to abandon such a devotion lurks and lingers in the mind. I want to encourage you to persevere, and here’s why: I am a stay-at-home mom of four young children who wears many hats. For starters, my kids range in age from 8 ½ to 6 months old. I am still waking up at night with the baby. I homeschool my oldest. Our middle has a rare disease that requires frequent check-ups with fifteen-plus specialists. And I am a writer at heart.

I find that praying the rosary every day grounds me. It rarely feels like a duty or obligation, but more like that consolation of Our Lady’s presence guiding me through my work and even the overwhelm. I don’t always finish my daily rosary in one setting, and that’s okay. But I want to share with you a few tips on what I hope will help you persevere in your devotion to praying the rosary.

SUPPLEMENT PRAYER WITH VISUAL OR AUDIO AIDS
Because I have young kids who are constantly interrupting my thoughts, I have days where it’s nearly impossible to focus on what I am praying for each Mystery of the rosary. During those times, I will fish out a rosary booklet that has images for each Mystery and focus on those pictures while I am praying each Hail Mary. I encourage my older kids to do this, too, when they are wiggling and squirming around.

You can also pick a focal point in your prayer space, which I’ll elaborate on in the next section.

Another helpful tool is to use a rosary CD or mp3 downloads while you are driving or doing chores at home (such as laundry or cooking dinner). My friend, Anna Nuzzo, recently released a professionally recorded audio rosary album that includes all four Mysteries. This is a fantastic way to use your morning or evening commute constructively, too.

SET ASIDE A SPECIFIC TIME AND SPACE EVERY DAY
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s not so easy to implement right away. You’ll need to create a new habit, and habits take about three weeks of uninterrupted execution in order to feel more like second nature.

When Ben and I first moved into our home a little over two years ago, we chose a specific location where we’d have our “prayer room,” which ended up being a quiet, library-esque type space with our religious icons, statues, and framed paintings. It is also where we gather for family prayer. For us, this is a natural place to also engage in quiet meditation for personal prayer.

You don’t have to have anything elaborate or looking like a shrine, but you do need to have a place in your home or work space that is relatively clutter-free, quiet, and conducive to meditation. This will eliminate many of your distractions.

PRAY WHILE EXERCISING
I don’t always get my daily rosary completed in one setting. I may begin praying during my personal prayer in the morning, only to get interrupted by my hungry infant. Then I’ll pick up where I left off (third or fourth Mystery?) while I’m folding laundry. There are days I can only get one decade in at a time, depending on the activity.

But that evening walk with my trusty ole pup, Lily, is a perfect setting to pray. Without realizing it, I get lost in the beauty around me, and I find my heart naturally elevated to heaven as I pray each Hail Mary with the cadence of my footsteps. It’s truly a meditation.

If you work out every day, you can incorporate your prayer while exercising instead of watching the news, listening to an audiobook, or plugging in those pulsing tunes on your mp3 player. It’s quite possible to make any location a mini-sanctuary with some ingenuity and creativity.

PRAY ON YOUR LUNCH BREAK
My husband runs a rat race at his job and finds it difficult to slow down. But when he takes his lunch break and actually leaves his work space, he often finds it’s an ideal time and place to pray. You might find that works for you, too.

The key to creating or reestablishing a habit is thinking of innovative ways you can rearrange your schedule or incorporate praying the rosary into your already jam-packed life. It’s not complicated, but it will require you to stretch a bit.

A final thought on distractions: even when you have eliminated extraneous noise, water cooler chatter, screaming children, barking dogs, and the like, you will still find your mind wandering. I want to assure you that this is normal and okay. St. Theresa of Avila basically wrote that, as long as we keep showing up for dialogue with God every day, He uses the fruits of our efforts.

We don’t have to so much empty the mind of all its white noise, but rather keep coming back to the present moment. This is a mental discipline that will become more natural over time. We aren’t willfully turning our minds to other thoughts during prayer, but rather sitting with God and allowing Him to use whatever meager offering we have to give.

Keep giving to God. He will multiply your efforts with His grace.

What do you do to keep from getting distracted while praying the holy rosary? Please share your experiences with us below. 

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