Dryness in Prayer

March 28, 1993
Brother John Raymond

	You may have read about or heard of certain stages in prayer. I
 would like to talk about what is perhaps the second stage a person
 enters into as he progresses in prayer.
	Prayer is more than just words - it involves our whole
 relationship with God. Just as in any relationship the intimacy
 between two people takes time to grow. In the case of our
 relationship with God it is only our response to God's love that
 needs growth. God helps us in the beginning of our relationship with
 Him by drawing us to Himself through many consolations during our
 prayer. We pray to God and enjoy the consolations we receive from
 Him. God showers us with these consolations to form in us the habit
 of prayer.
	Once we are firmly rooted in a life of prayer God sometimes
 withdraws these sensible consolations. Perhaps we have become use to
 them. We begin to feel like a "cold stone" when we try to pray. This
 dryness or loss of feelings we experience may even carry over into
 our charitable works. Some may experience other difficulties when
 praying. The first thought (though it's incorrect) that comes to
 many people when this happens is that they have done something wrong
 and therefore God has abandoned them. Yet when they examine
 themselves they cannot find any serious violations of His Law. This
 experience of dryness can be very painful. It can be even more
 painful if one was very attached to the former feelings of
	What is happening? God is purifying our love for Him. We are now
 asked to pray and serve Him with higher motives than before. Our
 relationship with God becomes less of a "what I'm getting out of it"
 attitude. Then we'll grow in humility before God. We realize just
 how much we depend on Him for everything - even prayer. Thus this
 seemingly negative experience in prayer helps us to grow in a
 positive way.
	Some people, however, turn back in their relationship with God at
 this point. They give up their daily prayers. Their "motive" for
 prayer is gone and so they give up. Others may not give up prayer
 altogether but cut down on the amount of time they used to spend in
 prayer. This is a sad mistake.
	If we accept this new situation in our relationship with God and
 do not panic we actually will suffer less. After some time we will
 notice a deeper level of love for God developing. We will again
 "want" to pray regardless of what we "experience" while praying.
 Just to spend time with God will be our delight.
	We have to remain faithful to this relationship of prayer with
 God. Perhaps the only thing we are able to do during prayer is say
 to God "here I am." But God, Who looks at the heart, knows our
 intentions and is pleased with us.
	When we arrive at a type of prayer where we are just happy to be
 in God's presence we have arrived at what spiritual authors call the
 Prayer of Simple Regard or a stage of prayer which involves a "look
 of love," a simple gazing upon God. Our will is attached to God and
 we are happy to just sit in His presence. St. John Vianney tells
 about a man who used to a lot of time before Our Lord present in the
 tabernacle of the church. One day St. John Vianney asked the man
 what he did during this time. The man responded, "I look at Him and
 He looks at me." In other words this man was experiencing this form
 of prayer.
	I wish to point out that often spiritual writers are speaking
 about the stages of prayer that many people pass through. This does
 not mean that everyone travels by this path in their life of prayer.
 As the Benedictine, Father John Chapman stated, "Pray as you can,
 not as you can't." But for those who are experiencing dryness in
 prayer I hope and pray that they may persevere on the path they have
 begun. A path that will lead to a more intimate prayer-life with