Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 19, 2017
Problems of Meditation?
Ah, now we come to the main point of difficulty. At least, my main point of difficulty. Yes, I have prayed regularly for years, and prayed sometimes for extended periods of time. (Not half as much as I should have, for which I ask great forgiveness, Lord.) And, I have had problems with prayer and meditation for years. For decades.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood about problems with meditation. He was writing to seminarians, remember; a goodly portion of them probably complained and moaned when Pastor Bonhoeffer told them how long each day he expected them to pray and meditate. The first recommendation he had, when encountering great difficulties in meditation? Practice, practice, practice. Practice earnestly and for a long time.
His second recommendation applies to me, quite well. My thoughts often flit around like insects—sometimes fluttering like butterflies, but other times zooming like quite another kind of unpleasant bug. Bonhoeffer says, “If your thoughts keep wandering, there is no need for you to hold on to them compulsively.” (Thank God.) “There is nothing wrong with letting them roam where they will; but then incorporate in your prayers the place or person to which they have gone.” 
Yes. I’ve known that my thoughts do fly all around, for years. And, I have asked God to send my thoughts to people or situations that need prayer. That’s one way I’ve been praying, for years.
Thank God for Bonhoeffer’s suggestion! Otherwise, I would feel really guilty about my thoughts flying around all over the place, even when I sincerely try to pray and meditate.
I admit that I have the Myers-Briggs preferences of ENFP. I have read the 16 different prayers for the 16 different personality preferences, and I can relate to the one for ENFP: “God, help me to keep my mind—look! A bird!—on one thing at a time.” So, yes. I appreciate Bonhoeffer’s understanding and patience with his students. I also appreciate my God’s understanding and patience with me. (Thank You, God!)
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
 Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 26.