Adventures #198: Time to Pivot

Greg endures more travel, Jennifer’s got one bizarre method for eating ice cream and together they tackle the question of why solutions to problems seem so temporary. Become a Co-Producer!

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Greg and Jennifer’s Links and Resources Mentioned

TCND #085: When God Says No

TCND_085When God Says No to Prayer, Jennifer’s Homeless Encounter, Amazon Gift Card Winner, Greg’s Health Update, Why You Should Attend CNMC. 888-299-8686 to leave feedback and be a part of the show!
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7 Ways to Blast Through Dry Prayer

When you’re in the desert, if you remain stagnant and don’t try to make your way out, you’ll wither up and die.

Instead of sticking around in the sand dunes, dive into a faith where there is something new to discover each day, and in that discovery, experience the desire of growing closer to God, and the satisfaction of witnessing the Holy Spirit working through you in reaching others.

  • If you say you don’t get anything out of Mass, what are you putting into it?
  • If you say the Catholic faith is boring, when was the last time you read a book explaining the Eucharist or the lives of saints?
  • If you say you don’t feel the presence of God, or that the struggle of learning about and living out your faith isn’t worth it, then perhaps you’ve never opened yourself to experiencing the joy that comes through suffering, in suffering, and after suffering.

Even Jesus Christ found himself in a desert for forty days, but in the midst of those forty days, he turned to prayer and fasting to dive more deeply into His own relationship with God our Father, he fought through the dryness and pain of temptation to allow the strength of conviction to take hold and withstand the attacks of the devil. Being in the desert didn’t weaken His faith, it strengthened it. When we allow it, the pain and desolation and sufferings we sometimes encounter in life can be transformative periods of intense spiritual growth.

But just desiring to get out of dryness doesn’t necessarily facilitate change, particularly when it comes to prayer.

For times when you find yourself in a place of dryness, or feel that your prayer life has become lethargic, below are seven strategies for blasting through dryness in prayer, improving your time in prayer, and creating prayer routines that will help you when periods of dryness return in the future (as they’re sure to do):

1) Consistency
Pick a time to pray each day and stick to it. For me, it’s first thing in the morning, waking up two hours before I need to leave for work so I can pray, ponder, and then work on creative endeavors that perhaps I was inspired to work on during my prayer time.  Prayer makes my days better, including my weekends.  If I schedule the time for prayer each day, I know my days will be better.  Consistency is the key.

2) Pick a place
Create places in and out of your home that become associated with prayer.  I actually recommend trying to create 2-4 prayer spots. Years ago I’d leave work everyday at lunch and sit in my car in a parking lot, eat my lunch, and then spend 45 minutes in uninterrupted prayer.   For me, I have a dedicated “prayer chair” in a room of our house, and when the weather is warmer, I pray every morning on my front porch.  And of course, developing a routine of going to Eucharistic Adoration helps make your local parish a perfect prayer spot.

3) Have a backup plan
Some mornings I sit and draw an absolute blank.  My prayer is like staring at a blank wall.  When this happens, I go to one of my backup prayer plans.  When my prayer seems like a rambling, incoherent mess, I turn to rote prayers like the Rosary or Liturgy of the Hours or simply opening up the Bible and reading for ten minutes.  Some other backup prayer plans including reading the Psalms, listening to recorded audio prayers (like the free audio Rosaries Jennifer and I recorded), or simple journaling out my thoughts.

4) Eliminate distractions
Wherever your prayer spot may be, or whenever you plan your prayer, leave your phone outside of arms reach (and preferably outside the room).  If you’re surrounded by people all day, go for a prayer walk or just go sit in your car to pray.

5) Ask for intercessory help before prayer
This was a huge breakthrough for me.  When I remember to ask my guardian angel to help me to pray, he’ll lead me to ask for the intercession of saints and our Blessed Mother to assist me in my prayer and to make sure I’m focusing on the areas of my life where the Holy Spirit most desires me to grow.

6) Set goals
When prayer becomes particularly routine, I find the challenge praying a novena (such as the Divine Mercy novena or the novena of Mary Undoer of Knots or even a 54-day Rosary novena) will break through dryness like nothing else will.  As a caveat, though, make sure to have a plan in place for what your prayer life will be after the novena is completed so you don’t fall back into old routines.

7) Accept Imperfection
Jesus prays that we may be perfect, but not every conversation with someone is perfect. If your prayer seems dry and pointless, cut yourself some slack.  God cares more about you showing up than what you say when you arrive.  Go back to the first suggestion (consistency) and you’ll eventually break through that dryness in prayer.

What are ways you break through dryness?  Share your suggestions in the comments below!

For more ideas for breaking through dryness in prayer, make sure to check out episode #084 of The Catholics Next Door where we dive deeper into these seven strategies!

For more discussion on dryness, also check out my book The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid!

TCND #084: Tithing French Fries

TCND_084Teaching kids about tithing, Birthdays, Ben the Baker, and Seven Ways to Improve Your Prayer! 888-299-8686 to leave feedback and be a part of the show!
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Your voice makes the show fun for us to do! Call our feedback line and leave a message of two minutes or less at 888-299-8686 or send MP3 to

Links and Resources Mentioned


Like the music we use in the show?  It’s all courtesy of Popple.  Awesome band.  Check them out and support them.

How to Pray In 4 Easy Steps

prayerbeginnersIn the last few weeks, I’ve experienced a truly amazing grace in my prayer life, and it stems from an efficient little book I stumbled upon several years ago called Prayer for Beginners by Peter Kreeft.

The first time I saw the book was during a silent retreat back in 2006, during a similar time when my prayer felt dry and ineffective.  I knew God was listening, but it didn’t feel like He was.

I managed to read the entire book during the retreat, but one section stood out in particular.  Unfortunately, as is often the case after a retreat, I forgot 95% of the lessons I learned as the reality of life took over once again.

Then just a couple weeks ago, for no apparent reason, Kreeft’s simplified lesson for prayer popped back into my head.  It started with an acronym that worked as an outline for how to approach God in prayer.

The secret, says Kreeft, is the word RAPT, as in, “when you pray, do so with rapt attention.”

The acronym stands for Repentance, Adoration, Petition, and Thanksgiving.

On a fluke, after all these years I decided to try it a few times, starting privately, and then explaining it to my children, and then even sharing it with co-workers.   But even with it’s simplicity, I find that explaining the acronym is still confusing, but when you actually model the praying technique, people are amazed!

So below I want to briefly explain how I have implemented those 4 steps, and provide an example of how you might use this is in your own prayer life.

This has been one of my favorite aspects of the prayer.  I’m the kind of person that wants to rip off the Band-Aid quickly, so jumping right to acknowledging my own stupidity and inadequacies has been enormously beneficial.  When I use this method every day, this acts as a reminder for a daily examination of conscience.  What have I done (or thought or failed to do) in the last 24 hours?  I simply recall all of these things, summon up true contrition, and bring these things to God in prayer.  I’ll still bring these to Confession at a later date, but a daily examination of conscience allows me to allow true contrition to keep me in alignment with the will of God.

For this part of the prayer, I take a moment to slow down and acknowledge the sovereignty of God.  I stop and think about God the Father, the creator of heaven and earth. I think of Him truly as my father, and I put myself in His presence, approaching Him as His child.  He cares about me.  He loves me.  He wants to hear from me.

I then acknowledge Jesus Christ, my brother and my king, who loves me so much He allowed Himself to be put on the cross and killed for me.  And I think about my love for Him.

Lastly, I think about the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, and how dependent I am on Him and the graces He delivers into my soul through the Sacraments.

I love that before I start asking God for stuff, and tossing a litany of wants and needs at Him, that I’ve taken the time to apologize and acknowledge Him as the One in control.  Having done so, I’ve actually found that my petitions are harder to formulate, because I’m more cognizant of my own failures, as well as how much better God is than me at determining true needs.  I’ve also found this method makes it easier and more natural to pray for others, because I’ve already removed myself as the center of prayer.

Being thankful is tough for me.  I’m the kind of person who as soon as God answers one prayer, I’m already focusing on the next “need.”

Consciously taking time to be thankful has made a huge difference.   Just as in repenting, with this last step I stop and think about all the ways in the past 24 hours that God has been there for me.  All the small ways (like getting me home without bad traffic) or the big ways (good health reports or answers to past prayers).  I try to think of every single good thing that God has done in my life since the last time I prayed this RAPT prayer, and the peace upon completing it is undeniably evident.

You can make this prayer last as long as you want, but can also pray it in just a minute or two.  With your family, I recommend pausing after each step, allowing each person to silently ponder these things in his or her heart.

So now here’s a short example of how this would all play out (I’ll put the steps in brackets, but that’s not necessary to do when you do this prayer yourself):

Dear Lord,

[R-Repentance] I am sorry for not taking more time to talk with you yesterday, and for allowing the busy-ness of the day to take over.  I’m sorry for yelling at my kid, and for being so angry inside afterward and for not immediately showing forgiveness.      [A-Adoration] You are God my Father, who made me and everything around me.  Everything in my life is a gift from You.  You are Jesus Christ my savior who loves me so much You died for me.  You are God the Holy Spirit, the shared love of Father for the Son and Son for the Father, who inspires and directs me in my life. [P-Petition] I ask you to help me be a better father.  Please help me understand how best to be like You.  Please help the people in my life who are suffering.  [T-Thanksgiving] Lord, I am so thankful for the fact that You hear my prayers.  I thank you for the way things have been going at work, and I thank you for the ways you’ve been blessing my family, and for keeping us healthy and safe.  I thank you for being my God, and I offer up my day – both the good and the bad — to You.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for everything.  Amen.

It’s as simple as that!

After you’ve tried this, leave a comment below to let me know it worked for you!