"Praying through distractions" by Charisse Tierney (CatholicMom.com) Via Pixabay (2015), CC0 Public Domain

“Those tiny, buzzing flies--our wayward thoughts--do not interrupt the recollection of the heart.” -- Jacque Philippe, Time for God

Ever since my baby daughter had open-heart surgery, acquaintances and friends have asked me a common question, “How did you get through it? Weren’t you a mess?”

I won’t tell you that I never shed any tears, or that I moved forward through the days before her surgery with a perpetual smile on my face and a skip in my step. It was a highly stressful time, and I constantly felt the full weight of that cross.

But I never collapsed. I never completely stopped functioning. I never gave up hope that everything would turn out well.

The support of friends and family helped me through the days of waiting for her surgery. Planning a Little Flowers Girls’ Club tea party provided a wonderful, purpose driven distraction for my nervous energy. My husband was my rock. And my five other children kept me strong simply by needing me.

But I would never have made it through those difficult days without the grace of prayer.

Novenas, chaplets, Rosaries, Adoration hours, consecrations to Mary--I drew fully on the rich prayer traditions of the Church.

As moms, we’re all busy. That fact didn’t change just because my baby needed open-heart surgery. Our family did receive a lot of wonderful outside help during that time, but my other children still needed meals, clean clothes, and loving attention. As the surgery drew nearer, extra doctor’s appointments, packing, and cleaning took over my schedule.

Still, there was always time to pray.

In the early morning hours, in the bathroom, while falling asleep in bed at night, while driving, or with cartoons playing in the background and to-do lists running through my head, even when I didn't feel like doing it--prayer was a priority. It was my thread of peace that wove everything together. It kept my heart recollected throughout those difficult days--even when the “tiny, buzzing flies” of distraction threatened to interfere.

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At times, prayer might seem pointless. We start a Rosary only to have our baby wake early from a nap. We close the door to the bathroom only to see little fingers poking underneath. We live in a household that is never (!) quiet.

But we keep trying. We keep praying. Even if we’re interrupted. Even if we feel distracted. Even if we seem to get nothing out of it. “For in constantly struggling to return to the Lord, our prayer, however poor, will be very pleasing to God.” (Philippe, Time for God)

And we can be sure that in struggling to return to the Lord, He will forever return to us, accompany us through our day, and ensure that our actions are in line with His will.

It is not always during the moments of intentional prayer that God inspires and answers us. Rather, it is in the other moments of our day, when the conversation is finished but He continues to hold our hand and nudge us in the right direction.

This is how I was able to have a coherent conversation with a cardiologist at 2am the night after I’d just had our baby. This is how I was able to hand her over to a nurse and let her go just before her surgery. This is how I was able to sit calmly in her hospital room and listen to her bravely whimper through a chest tube placement after her lung unexpectedly collapsed.

Because He was holding my hand. He had heard my prayers. And He never left my side.

Persevere in prayer, even when you’re distracted, and He’ll be there when you need Him most!

“The proper response to distractions, then, is not for the mind to concentrate harder but for the heart to love more intensely.” (Philippe, Time for God)

Copyright 2017 Charisse Tierney