The Bishop of Orihuela-Alicante (Spain), Msgr. José Ignacio Munilla, explained the three main difficulties that prevent us from praying and taught how we can combat them.
Through his YouTube channel “In you I trust”, Mons. Munilla reflects and explains in a simple way topics contained in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. On that occasion, the Prelate commented on number 574 of the Compendium of the Catechism, which is titled: “What are the difficulties for prayer?”.
“The usual difficulty for prayer is distraction, which separates attention from God, and can even discover what we are really attached to. Our heart must then turn to God with humility, “says the Catechism.
“Prayer is often hampered by dryness, the overcoming of which makes it possible to adhere to the Lord in faith even without sensible consolation. Heartburn is a form of spiritual laziness, due to the relaxation of vigilance and the neglect of the custody of the heart, ”he adds.
Referring to the text of the Catechism, Mons. Munilla explained what the three main difficulties or temptations are and how they manifest themselves during prayer, and called for facing them with determination and trust in God.
Faced with the three temptations, “the Lord asks us to respond with our desire for a certain determination, to be faithful to prayer as a call to live continuous conversion in our lives,” he said.
Here are the three difficulties or temptations in prayer:
1. The distraction:
Bishop Munilla said that the main difficulty in prayer “are the distractions” that are born from the imagination. “Saint Teresa of Jesus already said that the imagination is ‘the madwoman of the house’. But Santa Teresa learned not to make a big deal out of it,” he said.
However, he said that having an imagination that is quite difficult to silence, “does not have to affect us too much” to think “that this is going to be the main obstacle to prayer”, unless those distractions hide disinterest. “If there is a lack of interest, if there is no living and true faith”, this “is a sign of a heart not fully converted” and that is another topic, she said.
He explained that “an overflowing imagination can show that we have attachments, because the heart is not sufficiently in love.” For example, if “one is always distracted by money issues, these distractions may be giving away that there is an attachment to money in my heart,” she added.
Bishop Munilla said that we must “be vigilant” and identify when distractions “reveal and reveal where the attachment of our heart is”; without forgetting that one also gets distracted by things “that do not have an element of attachment”.
“If there is attachment, we have to uproot the attachment from our heart to overcome distraction. But when my imagination is too unstoppable, we should not pay much attention to it”, advised the Prelate, but warned that we should not “go hunting for distraction”, because this action in itself is a distraction that takes us away from the objective of praying.
For example, it may happen that a fly enters the room and that makes you nervous, so you stop reading your book, you take a broom to catch it, but you fail and end up breaking the windows. In this case, it’s best to “not pay too much attention” to the fly, and just “make a slight gesture” of brushing the fly away with your hand, “without looking up from what we were doing,” she said.
In these cases, he remembered to follow the saying “the greatest contempt is not to appreciate”, which means that “sometimes the best way to deal with these distractions is not to get nervous, or pay too much attention to them”. Finally, he encouraged us to always “make sure our hearts are vigilant and attentive”, as this will help us “overcome distractions”.
Mons. Munilla said that the Catechism identifies “dryness” as a second difficulty, “because when one is doing a meditation and does not find sensitive pleasure in those thoughts, it becomes dry, he feels a dryness that makes him tempted to leave it, because he is getting bored, it is costing him”.
However, the Prelate recalled that precisely when the dryness occurs “it is a very important moment” to grow spiritually. “When one is faithful in prayer, despite going through a time of dryness, he makes a great leap in his spiritual life,” he affirmed.
In this regard, he recalled the words of Saint Paul, who said: “The just will live by faith.” He explained that the saint does not say that the person “will live from the feeling of faith, but will live from faith, and faith often walks dryly, even in the midst of darkness, but it walks and does not allow itself to be derailed by the fact that experience greater dryness”.
Then, he encouraged to remember that “we do not seek the consolations of God”, but rather “we seek the God of consolations, who sometimes also tests our hearts with moments of desolation and interior dryness. So, that is a way to educate our lives.”
3. The acidity:
Bishop Munilla said that the third difficulty is heartburn, which “is synonymous with laziness, but with some nuances.” He explained that heartburn “is not only a laziness of the will, but deep down it is a loss of first love, it is a having separated ourselves from that spirit of being in permanent conversion.”
“It is the carelessness of vigilance, having fallen into negligence, it is having entered into lukewarmness or mediocrity. Obviously, acedia ends up taking us away from prayer, ”she stressed.
Therefore, he advised that the best way to respond to heartburn “is to return to love first, and commit to living in a permanent state of conversion.”