Praying with Mental Purity

Recently in a corporate setting, we bowed our heads to pray and to my shame, I found it difficult to concentrate. There were too many images, thoughts and voices swirling around in my head to focus on actual prayer. A few things crossed my mind that made me recoil with disgust. To me, this was a problem. Prayer is precious. I should not be thinking of these things right now. I’m praying. Although I violently attempted to clear my mind of these disreputable thoughts, I was simply incapable of doing so. They were there, and there was nothing I could do about it. I immediately began to wonder why it was so exceedingly difficult to focus.

As I examined what these thoughts were, I realized that they were the images I had seen, the thoughts I had thought and the voices that I had listened to that morning and the previous day.
All of a sudden, and with the sober clarity of one regaining consciousness after being knocked out from behind, I felt the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8, impinging upon me: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

My mind was filled with things that were not true, dishonorable, wrong, corrupt, and ugly. I was transgressing Paul’s exhortation to eschew the place of prominence so often given to these things. I was to dwell, or ponder what is pure, at whatever the cost. Whatever television program I may miss, whatever conversation I may not be a part of, whatever blog-post I may not read, I must fight to fill my mind with what is honorable, and praiseworthy.

I realized that, if for no other reason than to be able to pray with mental purity, Paul’s words must be heeded as if one’s life depended upon it. And, perhaps in a real way it does.
January 25, 2007


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