“It felt like monkeys jumping from branches to branches. More than one monkey.” The person was talking about the experience of preparing to pray and meditate. This is common and something we need to expect and learn to stay calm about, take action and carry on.
THE CHALLENGE OF INNER NOISE
Our mind is like a river carrying floating dry leaves across our mind in an endless stream. Many of these thoughts are insignificant and lightweight and could be ignored with a mere switch off in our soul. They merely come and disappear as quickly as the stream of water passing by.
The difficulty is when these thoughts, ideas, problems, burdens, emotions, experiences swirl around. It could be your mind trying to solve a problem, flirting with a new idea, remembering something that needed to be done, someone to call, feeling a mood or dominant emotion that suddenly surfaces onto consciousness, or worries and concerns that weigh on you, or a difficult decision to make. They keep pestering. They refuse to leave. Like a float you push underwater, they pop up again and again. If we do not do something with them we might end up totally focused on these matters, feeling spent at the end of all the thinking, and feeling drawn away from God’s life-giving presence.
TWO METHODS TO HANDLE “MONKEYS”
There are two methods for handling this. One is to make a record of them in a journal, notebook or phone. Record them with the intention of getting back to them later after you have given yourself to meditation and prayer. Giving them a place of existence, a number in the queue, will placate them, or rather re-assure yourself that these matters will be taken up and will not be forgotten. It gives you peace of mind since they have been set apart safely to be looked at later. This is a prayer aid that will help you focus on meditation of God’s word and prayer first. When you later come back after prayer, to the list to discuss them with the Lord, you may find that the meditation you had was timely in giving you a timely word or godly perspective, and the prayer time had strengthened your faith to view the list differently.
A second way is to pray through and discuss with the Lord all the items you have recorded before going into your meditation of the word and prayer. This is particularly good when the first method was futile as you kept thinking about the problem or your swirling emotions and desire refused to be calmed. Let these problems, burdens, emotions and desires be the subject of your conversation and discussion with the Lord. As you talk to the Lord as a friend speaks to a friend, you will find that it is not mere monologue but an exchange is going on. Thoughts and inspiration and ideas and perspectives may dawn on you in prayer. New desires and self-control may overtake your anxious, angry and greedy soul. You may find that this alone had taken all the time you had allotted and there is no time for meditation on his word. It does not matter. You have prayed. You have had communion with the Lord.
I am sure there are other useful methods readers have tried. I am sure if you take some time to share what worked for you, it would be of help to other pray-ers too. The comment button is below the title of this blogpost.