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):
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!