Persevering in Prayer

One of the hardest things to do in the interior life is to persevere: to keep going, to keep praying every day, especially when, for some reason, we miss a day.  It's only natural.  If you're learning to play an instrument, and you don't practice, you don't want to face your instructor; and if you continue not to practice, you'll soon not be taking lessons.But the fact is, you're sometimes going to miss a day.  Sometimes you'll just not feel like it, and you'll go with that; other times yo … [Read more...]

Dryness: When God Seems Far Away

The interior life is just like anything else that you begin with excitement and enthusiasm: the excitement and enthusiasm wear off, and you end up with dryness. You don't want to sit down and pray; when you do, it seems meaningless and pointless and boring and no fun. That's the bad news. The good news is that the dryness will come and go.There are two reasons for this, one human and one divine.The human reason is what Uncle Screwtape called "the law of undulation". In any human … [Read more...]

Body: The Outward Affects The Inward

It's tempting to think of the interior life as something that takes place entirely within your mind and heart, but as I pointed out a few weeks ago, it 'tain't so. We are not souls who happen to be stuck in bodies for a while; we are human beings, a composite of body and soul, and whatever we do, we do with our whole beings. There's always been a tendency within Christianity to forget this, and act as though the soul is really what we are; this is called angelism, and it's simply a mistake. … [Read more...]

Practice: Living the Interior Life From Day To Day

Reading about the interior life is not the same as living it. (Neither is writing about it.) ’nuff said. … [Read more...]

Divine Office, Part III: Fruit for Meditation

The Rosary is not just a prayer, it's a meditation on the life of Christ. Similarly, the Liturgy of the Hours is not just a set of prayers; it is also fruit for meditation.First, (as I seem to keep saying) the Divine Office is based around the Psalms. I hadn't really gotten to know the Psalms all that well before I started praying the Office; they are poetry (which is usually not to my taste) (which is a sad commentary on my taste), and poetry needs to be lived with. The Psalms speak of … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Devotions

Last time I talked about how spontaneity fails, at least for me, as an approach to daily prayer. So what's the alternative? If I'm not going to sit down and simply pray from my heart at the stated time, what am I going to do instead?The answer is to cultivate a devotion: that is, a prayer that is meant to be said daily. Low-church Protestants sometimes have trouble with this kind of prayer; it smacks of "vain repetition". But as I pointed out, trying to pray spontaneously every day led … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Spontaneity

So far in this series I've focussed on things that have worked for me in my pursuit of the interior life. Today, I'm going to talk about something that hasn't worked for me: spontaneity…by which I mean, praying in my own words as opposed to using set prayers.Don't get me wrong. Spontaneous prayer is a good thing. If you feel moved to pray, to tell God what's going on, or to ask for help, or to rejoice at a sunrise or the face of your child, go to it! Knock yourself out. As I said, when y … [Read more...]

Listening to God Redux

I don't know whether Tom McDonald's latest post was inspired by my post on Listening to God or not, but it's well worth your time. My post focused narrowly on my personal experience in prayer, and on the human dimension. (You can't say everything at once, darn it!) But as Tom points out, every instance of human prayer is a response to a conversation initiated by God, however it seems at the time. … [Read more...]

Bootstrapping the Interior Life: Time

So you've begun to pursue the interior life. You're learning to respond to the Lord's nudges. Maybe you've even asked Him to help you hunger and thirst for righteousness. So what happens next?It's like this. There's this person you've been bumping into. Maybe you meet them at the grocery store, or in the hallway at work, or at the gas station. And you find that when you bump into them, you have one of those neat conversations that just goes on and on, even though you both really need … [Read more...]