By: Sister Meredith, O.C.D.
Perseverance in prayer can be a challenge, even for many well-intentioned, faithful Christians. Just as life has its ups and downs, so does our prayer life and God can take a soul into a certain darkness where joys and consolations turn into dryness and boredom. What should we do during these times? Let’s heed the words of St. John of the Cross, a Doctor of Mystical Theology, or in easier terms, an expert of how prayer positively impacts the soul.
St. John of the Cross said “Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty, persevere in it for this very reason. God often desires to see what love your soul has, and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.” God allows the soul to undergo dryness to purify our emotions and to strengthen our will. Are we praying for consolations or out of love for the God of consolations? So, while our senses are being starved, the spirit is being greatly fed like a child being weaned from milk to solid food. We don’t understand it, but that’s alright.
How shall we respond during these times of dryness?
- Allow yourself to remain quiet before the Lord. Just look at Him looking at you. Be simple.
- Rest on a particular word or phrase of sacred scripture and let it feed you.
- Have an honest conversation with Jesus…share with Him that you’re really not liking the silent treatment, but you love Him enough to stick around.
- Persevere, don’t give up. If you planned to pray for 15 minutes, stay a minute longer to overcome yourself.
- Stick to your planned times of prayer, don’t give up or cut corners unless there is good reason (like a fire or a sick child).
- Give God space. Allow God to pour out His graces upon you on His terms and in His due time, not yours.
- Allow yourself to be “useless”. Waste time with the Lord. You’re a human being not a human doing, so just be.
If you do some of these things, you will experience a sense of peace you didn’t have before your prayer time. This is because you are beginning to rely on God and not on yourself, and how much better life will be!