Prayer and concentration

Q. I have been praying the Rosary almost every day for many years, and I am beginning to feel that all the repetition is too much. I cannot concentrate for the 20 minutes it takes me to say all the Hail Marys. Is it wrong to feel this way? What do you recommend so I can pray better?

A. Here’s a reply from Msgr. M. Francis Mannion:

You should not feel guilty about distractions in prayer. These seem to beset the prayer life of virtually everyone (except, perhaps, the mystics). One way to handle distractions is to turn them into the objects of prayer.

Regarding the Rosary, if you find that this prayer is becoming too much for you, you can pray it less frequently or just pray one decade a day. Prayers are not ends in themselves, and they are pleasing to God only when they have a positive spiritual effect on the life of the one praying and arise from a true conversion of heart.

In my experience, people often become frustrated when they take on too many prayers or recite prayers that take a great deal of time. It is much better to pray from the heart for a few minutes a few times a day and to put one’s energy into these short prayers than to battle the spiritual frustration that can come from a more extensive prayer regimen.