Your experience with vanities sounds like mine with my addictions. When my own discrimination and decision making is part of the moral calculus of what I should engage in, Im lost to the addiction. I can even be recognizing, beyond my thinking brain, that Im just justifying my actions. I keep on justifying them. In response, Ive taken to rule making, at least for now.
The current addiction Im sheddingor at least coming to terms with (Yes, thats probably a justification.)is to news. After I read the paper my prayers are distracted by worry and the worlds judgments. Since I pray first thing in the morning, I can easily keep to a rule of no news before that. Our current delivery is about 6:20 am. That gives me the paper for breakfast, after prayer time.
On Sundays, the rule I use is not before worship. When worship was at 11:00 am, that was harder than currently. Now I just have to hold out until my 9:00 departure for the 9:45 meeting.
Ive found that if I even touch the newspaper, I start to temporize and experiment. “Would reading the funnies count?” “What about the sports section?” “Heres a human interest story; Ill limit myself to just it.”
I usually end up reading more.
If I really want to find a life of continuous prayer, what will I have to do?
I see rule making as a means to clear my heart to remain open so that I can listen and follow guidance from God. The guidance of Christ that sustains or provides judgment is the true remedy for this addictionand others. I make rules just to provide a guidance from outside the immediate moment that will head off the temporizing of my addiction laden personal discriminations.