”Oh Lord, we beseech Thee, etc. etc. etc. Amen.”
One pitfall of liturgical prayer is it’s easy to get into a mode where your mouth is saying the words, but the heart and mind are somewhere else.
Then, as I pointed out to my youth Sunday School class, our prayers can become as in the Monty Python sketch “Bruces”. In it, these outback Aussies, all named Bruce, are having a faculty meeting. The “padre” among them is called to end the meeting in prayer. Whereupon he quickly puts on a wraparound collar, stands and prays, “Oh Lord, we beseech Thee, etcetera etcetera etcetera. Amen.”
And I’ve noticed myself slipping into such prayers. That did not happen at first. When I was first discovering the liturgy, the prayers were so wonderful and new to me, I took in every word.
I still love the liturgy and am learning. But now that it’s more familiar, it’s easy for my mind to drift. That’s part of being human, I guess.
So I don’t beat myself up too much over it, although I do get annoyed at myself at times. But I usually catch myself quickly and rivet my attention back to the prayers.
Actually, I think my mind drifted more when all my prayers were ex tempore or non-liturgical. A strength of liturgical prayer is it does guide the mind. Without such guidance, it’s much easier for the mind to float hither and yon.
But even spiritual giants from both liturgical and non-liturgical backgrounds have complained of the mind drifting during prayer. So I’m in good company . . . , and I guess the Monty Python troupe is good company, too.