Meg Herriot offers five tips to help busy, distracted moms focus on prayer.
Holy Thursday has often been one of my favorite liturgical celebrations. Between the Institution of the Eucharist and entering the Tridium, that could be understandable, I guess. But my personal affinity for the day is kind of counterintuitive. I almost always struggle to focus.
Watching and praying with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is hard to do. It’s hard for me to even stay focused in prayer for a couple of minutes. Often at Eucharistic Adoration, my brain either tries to block out the fifty other things I’m thinking about, or I struggle to stay awake.
I’m sure this is a battle that many share. Just recently though, I received a diagnosis of ADHD. This has made me a little less scrupulous in my struggle. I think having ADHD or being a busy, overwhelmed mom both make it difficult to focus, pray, and enter into times of prayer. While I know God knows how my brain is wired and isn’t expecting me to focus on Him in prayer for hours at a time, I also know that when I try to enter prayer more fully, even with how scattered and discombobulated I am, He welcomes me where I am. Like everyone, I’m a work in progress.
I have learned some techniques that help me, so I thought I’d share. Please feel free to share your own tips in the comments.
Wear a mantilla.
This is a beautiful practice and I’m happy to see it coming back in some churches. If you were thinking about wearing a mantilla and have focus issues, I have found it definitely helps block out some of my periphery vision, and somehow tells my brain to try to be a little more present (that is, when I don’t misplace it. Did I mention I have ADHD?).
Before Mass, Adoration, or prayer, take out a small notebook and pen. Try to write down everything that is dancing in your brain. You can then comfortably leave it on that paper until you are ready to take it up again.
Ask for help or intercession.
I often do this right before the Consecration. I ask the Blessed Mother to be present with me and help me focus on the Most Holy Sacrament of the Mass.
This has helped multiple people in my family. While praying the Rosary is great with the tactile beads, the Scriptural Rosary has really helped us focus on the mysteries. There are some small handheld books available (I try to keep one in my purse) and Ave Maria Press is coming out with The Ave Guide To The Scriptural Rosary. This can be read more like a book and it has a Scripture reading for each bead, then directs you to pray the Our Father or Hail Mary. You do not need to keep count as you read, and this helps you use the Rosary to focus on the mysteries.
Entering into song.
Singing and entering into song really does help us focus. As we sing “Watch and Pray” or the Salve Regina, it really does help take our prayer to another level. This is why I especially can enter more deeply into liturgical celebrations with music that elevates my prayer.
Copyright 2023 Meg Herriot
Images: (top, bottom) Canva; (center) copyright 2023 Meg Herriot, all rights reserved.