You tell me nothing new. You are not the only one who is troubled
with wandering thoughts. Our mind is extremely roving. But the
will is mistress of all our faculties. She must recall our stray
thoughts and carry them to God as their final end.
If the mind is not sufficiently controlled and disciplined at our
first engaging in devotion, it contracts certain bad habits of
wandering and dissipation. These are difficult to overcome. The
mind can draw us, even against our will, to worldly things. I
believe one remedy for this is to humbly confess our faults and
beg God's mercy and help.
I do not advise you to use multiplicity of words in prayer. Many
words and long discourses are often the occasions of wandering.
Hold yourself in prayer before God, like a dumb or paralytic
beggar at a rich man's gate. Let it be your business to keep your
mind in the presence of the Lord. If your mind sometimes wanders
and withdraws itself from Him, do not become upset. Trouble and
disquiet serve rather to distract the mind than to re-collect it.
The will must bring it back in tranquillity. If you persevere in
this manner, God will have pity on you.
One way to re-collect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and
preserve it more in tranquillity, is not to let it wander too far
at other times. Keep your mind strictly in the presence of God.
Then being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy
to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to
recall it from its wanderings. I have told you already of the
advantages we may draw from this practice of the presence of God.
Let us set about it seriously and pray for one another.