Last month, I shared the fruit of a little exercise I sometimes engage in prayer in a post: “Prayer as Conversation.” Here is another journal excerpt from a morning a while back when I was in the middle of writing An Unhurried Leader and wanted to interact with Jesus in this kind of prayerful conversation. I was dealing with my ongoing issues with distraction.
Me: I’m feeling familiar inner distraction, Lord, and I’m not doing very well at overcoming it. It feels like a thick barrier to fruitful work again. Help!?
Jesus: What would you like me to do for you?
Me: I’d like a mind that does not automatically gravitate towards distraction and a will that does choose to distract itself with distractions. I want to learn how to choose focus over distraction. Now that I write it, it sounds a little silly.
Jesus: Do you believe you are powerless when you feel distracted?
Me: I guess I sometimes do.
Jesus: Why do you believe that when you know it isn’t true? Perhaps you could choose to believe something truer.
Me: I could, but why don’t I?
Jesus: Indeed. Why don’t you?
Me: (I’m sorry, but I just felt so anxious about this conversation that I let myself be distracted by something I felt I hadto do on the Web. I’m complaining about my tendency to distract myself and then I’m actually doing it when I intend to pray. I reallyneed help, Lord.
Jesus: You are writing a book about being An Unhurried Leader. The most important step for you is to become and be an unhurried, undistracted leader. Take the time to do that work day-by-day. Resist every self-distracting impulse. My Spirit is present to empower you in this work—this training. Let Me train you in this.
Me: Thank you. It is moments like these that I might do well to put my iPhone on airplane mode and turn wifi off for a bit. Some part of me (and it’s probably a very immature part) gets anxious about being disconnected like this, but the mature part of me knows that it is a good decision akin to the practice of silence or solitude.
Jesus: That’s right. It’s a good start. And it’s a way to follow Me.
Me: O.K. So I just shut off wifi and put my iPhone on airplane mode. Obviously, I am not magically feeling quiet inside as a result.
Jesus: What do you want to do now? What will you choose?
Me: I think it just might help me if I spent fifteen minutes quiet in Your presence. It think that might help focus my heart and mind, and ready me for the writing I intend to do today.
Jesus: That sounds like a good idea.
Me: I’m grateful for your presence, Lord. I’m so glad to be learning from You.
Jesus: I always enjoy when we are in conversational friendship with you, Alan. It’s something I deeply desire and why I made you.
Me: I love this, too, Lord.
For Unhurried Reflection
So what does inner distraction look like in your life?
What are some situations in which you are most tempted to distract yourself rather than engage in the opportunity before you?
What invitation might Jesus be extending to you in a place just like this?