B ooks on productivity have become something of a cottage industry recently. It’s a good thing. But it’s a sign that we are struggling to be focused, that we are easily distracted in our daily tasks. I know I get distracted so easily that… squirrel! Did you see that squirrel? I like squirrels.

If distraction invades our concrete daily tasks, how much more is distraction an issue in our spiritual lives. A crying baby, a demanding boss, and broken toilet are distraction-busters by their own natures. But the life of the spirit is less concrete and difficult to lay hold of. Therefore it is more prone to distraction.

Look how Job overcomes his distraction in the wonderful and wrenching Book of Job, one of the most ancient biblical texts. Job’s life has been tossed to and fro on the waves of relenting distractions—professional, personal, spiritual, and emotional set-backs on a breathtaking scale. Dialogues about the issues don’t help him. To God, he says, finally,

“By hearsay I had heard of you, but now my eye has seen you” (Job 42:5).

Hearing about God didn’t center him. Only “seeing” God did. This stands for his sudden awareness of the divine presence with him, through all of his difficulties. He sees God’s presence within the distractions.

Fellow distracted souls, the simplest way I know of to start to experience what Job did is to spend five minutes at the end of the day (or perhaps, the beginning), prayerfully asking God to reveal how God was present with me through the past twenty-four hours. Gradually you’ll notice a new ability to “see” God’s presence in the midst of distractions. Be patient. It takes time. But get to work!

Try this prayer and the “making gains” action below and allow God to make gains in your life.

Prayer:

O God who spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, please speak to me out of the swirling winds of my life. I am so distracted. Help me to pray. I offer you all my distractions. I offer you everything that I have experienced in the past day. Please show me how you were laboring to love me in these memories. In difficulties, help me see your help to me. In the countless distractions that fill my mind, help me experience your mysterious presence. Help me see you, O God, in my swirling life, and to know your peace. I want you to be my eternal distraction! Amen.

Making Gains: Each day this week, take five to ten minutes, begin with the prayer above. Then use your memory and imagination to gently (don’t force it!) allow the recent day to replay in your mind. Don’t dwell too long on each memory, but rather simply allow each one to pass from your memory and intentionally offer it to God. Be attentive to ways that you may “see” an event differently now than when you first experienced it. Can you see with the fresh eyes of faith (and some aesthetic distance), how God was perhaps loving you in that experience? Try to write down one memory in which you sense God was with you. End with an Our Father prayer.

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