Julie wrote a post today that jibed with something I’ve been pondering, and nudged me enough to actually write something about it. In her post, she’s talking about taking time for prayer, and recognizing that that time for prayer is supposed to be a time of rest.
As a Lay Dominican, I pray the Divine Office every day (Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer, also known as Lauds, Vespers, and Compline). I like the Divine Office, because I don’t need to be with it. Some days I really enjoy spending time in prayer; and other days I’m tired and distracted. If I’m not with it, I still know when I’ve said my prayers that I’ve spent time with God…and the fact of the matter is, my feelings about my prayer time are a very poor indicator for the quality of my prayer time.
Still, even if I’m not with it it’s still necessary to focus as best I can. And that’s where distractions are a problem. It’s way too easy to sit down to the Office with a sense of rush: I want to sit down and do this so that I can move on to something fun. And so even as I pray, my mind is on what I want to do next. (For some reason this is especially a problem on weekends, when my time is my own and there’s nothing that I particularly have to do next.)
So it occurred to me the other day…a big part of the growing in the Christian life is detachment. I’m not expert in this, but detachment, as I understand it, is all about putting God first rather than second. There should be an order in our loving and our desires, and in particular we musn’t love the things of this world more than their Creator. Detachment is the process of learning to put God first.
And just maybe, just perhaps, the things that distract me from God during the Office are the things I’m in danger of loving more than Him. Not all of them; some of the distractions are duties and obligations that I really have to attend to. But many of them: the computer game I want to go back to, the book I want to keep reading. You know—the stuff I like.
Joy, he said, somewhat sardonically.