Are prophetic revelations (e.g., "I am Who am." to Moses or private revelations) that involuntary come to mind when praying distractions to prayer?

St. Thomas writes (Summa Theologica II-II q. 83 a. 13 ad 3) that "to wander in mind unintentionally [during prayer] does not deprive prayer of its fruit."

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    This question needs more clarification - what are the nature of these “good thoughts”? Are they spiritual in nature? Are they related to discernment?
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 21 at 21:43
  • @LukeHill "Are they spiritual in nature?" Not necessarily (or at least not directly). For example, a thought of how to solve a scientific problem, invent a new technology, prudently govern others, etc. "Are they related to discernment?" Maybe I'm asking how the Holy Ghost's gift of counsel operates during prayer, helping us make prudent, practical decisions.
    – Geremia
    Oct 21 at 21:46
  • Can you offer a definition of "genuine prophetic revelation" for the purpose of clarity? Oct 23 at 11:57
  • @MikeBorden I mean any prophetic revelation; see my edits.
    – Geremia
    Oct 23 at 18:46

2 Answers 2


We should listen to Paul and submit all our thoughts and ideas and feelings about God and about life to Paul’s teaching (as God’s apostle) for scrutiny. And if anything is out of sync with Paul’s teaching, we should let it be destroyed. When we put our minds and thoughts at the disposal of Apostolic teaching (honestly) and say, “Anything in my thinking that needs to be destroyed, destroy it,” that can utterly undo you. There will be seasons in life where we will be troubled and fight against the dismantling of what we feel are really important structures in our world view and thought life. So, I think that is the first thing we do. We listen to Paul. We submit everything we think — all our ideas, all our worldview, all our viewpoints — to God, and we say, “Let your word dismantle me if necessary.” with the result of restoration, revelation and Spiritual discernment.

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    – agarza
    Oct 22 at 4:20

Human brain has 30 billion cells called neurons. Each cell is connected to millions of other cells through outgoing projections called dendrites. Communication takes place through ' firing' of neurons. Thoughts are the result of such communication. Prayer, as a matter of fact, is a strain of connected spiritual thoughts. Unfortunately, there is no specific area in brain which creates only those thoughts which help us pray. Even if one per cent of the brain cells are at work during prayer, they are sure to create multiple number of thoughts, which we call distraction. The more we try to ' scare away' distractive thoughts, the deeper they get embedded in the thought process. It is wiser to ignore those thoughts- be they good or bad- and ' let sleeping dogs lie'. Once you come back from prayer, you can identify those distractive thoughts . You may either put them to good use, or just forget them. In the third alternative, you can ' connect ' such distracting thoughts to spiritual ideas through a conscious exercise, so that when you sit down to pray on subsequent occasions, and are troubled by distracting thoughts , they automatically get channelised to spiritual thoughts. As for ' original thoughts ' which form the basis of innovative ideas, they can come up anytime of the day, even during prayer, and also through dreams when we are asleep. Whether they are distractions or not, is to be decided on merit of each case.

  • Please support your answer with citations to Catholic theologians. Thanks.
    – Geremia
    Oct 22 at 13:54
  • Thanks, Geremia. You have since modified your question so as to give a totally spiritual perspective, and my answer is now out of place . But then, genuine prophetic revelations are indicative of in- depth prayer. Are they not ? Why do you feel they may be distraction to the prayer ? Oct 22 at 15:34
  • @Geremia you should put a specific request for Catholic theologians in the question too.
    – Peter Turner
    Oct 23 at 3:43

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