Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone.

If you have never had any distractions you don’t know how to pray. For the secret of prayer is a hunger for God and for the vision of God, a hunger that lies far deeper than the level of language or affection. And a man whose memory and imagination are persecuting him with a crowd of useless or even evil thoughts and images may sometimes be forced to pray far better, in the depths of his murdered heart, than one whose mind is swimming with clear concepts and brilliant purposes and easy acts of love.

– Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation

I thought this was a great excerpt on prayer, and it is very applicable to me. If you read it over again carefully and reflect a little about it, you might find, as I did, that Merton’s words are also applicable to situations other than prayer.

If, in your life, you find yourself now in the middle of a desert, not quite knowing where you’re heading, not quite able to focus on some brilliant purpose for your life and perform ‘easy acts of labour’, it could be a blessing. Maybe it’s a chance for you to tap into your hunger, or to find out for yourself, what it is you really hunger for. Maybe these distractions will force you to not only pray better, but also live better. If you choose to.

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