Last week at church, a very loud couple sat in the front row right in front of my family. They noisily shuffled to the middle of the pew, scrambling over churchgoers who were trying intently to decipher Monsegnior's homily. The woman sat down, asked her husband if he had "written the check yet" and proceeded to fiddle around on her iPhone for several minutes. I had already been fighting to concentrate over my brother's constant fidgeting- cracking knuckles, biting fingernails and playing with his shoes- when these people came in. It was hard enough trying to concentrate on the gospel and forcing my brain not to slip into daydreams or lists of what I had to do later.
Then I remembered praying for help concentrating at a daily mass the week before (I really needed help then, I was surrounded by 100+ small children). Slowly I realized the placement of these annoying people was entirely my fault. When you pray for strength, God doesn't just give it to you. He gives you an opportunity to find it. So, I was forced to pay attention by my own request. Funny how that works, getting what you ask for.