Prayer is a necessary foundation of the Christian Life. There is no Christian life without prayer — without daily time spent with Jesus, listening to Him, sharing your time, heart, and desires, and daily seeking and accepting His will for your life.
And yet… it’s so hard! Prayer is at once the deepest ecstasy and the heaviest trial of most Christians I know. We want to be holier, we want to know and do God’s will, and when we feel His Presence, it’s more powerful than anything else in this life. But somehow, in the mix of day-to-day life, it’s so easy to forget those glimpses of grace and mercy.
I’m married, so it’s easy to make marriage comparisons, but I’m confident every state in life has some brand of drudgery that you could fill in here. A healthy marriage certainly has incredible highs and romantic moments— there are candlelit dinners, flowers, deep talks and plenty of laughter. But the bulk of marriage isn’t made of these moments. Marriage is built on a hundred daily choices to say “yes” to love, and this often looks like yeses to dishes, laundry, scheduling, diapers, another pot of coffee, doctor’s appointments, putting in extra hours at work, and doing twenty other things that you don’t particularly feel like doing. And even though it may not feel intimate, the deep joy of knowing that someone is with you (and not going anywhere) when you’re at your best, your worst, and your most boring is an intimacy that nothing but building a life together can buy.
So it is with prayer. Sometimes we have these stunning moments where we feel the closeness of the Lord and know His will for us. But most of the time, at least in my experience, prayer feels less like a candlelit dinner and more like doing the dishes. But my feelings don’t change the fact that when I accept the Holy Spirit’s invitation to come to prayer, intimacy is happening. The Lord loves spending time with me, at my best, my worst, and my most boring. He’s changing me in deep places that I don’t even know need to be changed yet. And even though I often come to prayer distracted and unbelieving and blind, I am seen, and known, and loved in every corner of who I am. He’s there, in every part of life with me, and He’s not going anywhere.
So, when your prayer feels dry, it’s okay! Mine does, too, and pretty often. But here are some things I’ve found helpful when I feel the Lord prompting me to cut through the dry spell and go deeper:
1. Remember that if you feel like praying, the Holy Spirit is already at work in you. All you have to do is say yes— take a minute, or five, or twenty (whatever your day allows), and just say, “Okay, Lord, I’m here. What now?”
2. Don’t get stuck in a shame spiral. If you haven’t prayed for a while, or you’re struggling with serious sin, put aside your pride and come back to prayer. He already knows where you are, and he wants to be there with you. He loves and wants to spend time with you right now, no matter how broken you are. Your feelings about yourself are not how God feels about you.
3. Go to confession. The grace of the sacrament of confession corrects our perspective, turns us back towards God, and gives us power to say “yes” to Him daily.
4. Switch it up. If you’re praying a certain way and it’s not working for you, change it up! Do the daily readings, use an app like Hallow, try Lectio Divina, or just mental prayer (there are thousands of ways to pray, these are just a few ideas).
5. Recommit and make space. Finding a consistent time and a space for prayer in your life makes it easier to keep up with a daily commitment.
Finally, remember that prayer is not a way to earn God’s love for you — no matter how dry or how long it’s been, He’s already there, reaching for you, waiting to love you as you are.