Over the years, there are certain seasons when our spiritual life seems to be going great. You’re praying regularly, connecting with God on a daily basis, and growing in your relationship with the Lord. But there are other times when the spiritual life seems to be in a slump. Praying is difficult and you don’t feel connected to God, so before you know it you’ve stopped praying all together, and your relationship with the Lord grows weaker rather than stronger.
Recently on Go Ask Your Father™, Monsignor Stuart Swetland offered some advice on how to get through those periods when we are in a spiritual slump. He said:
“We all have those rhythms in our life, and there are physiological reasons for this, psychological reasons for this, seasonal reasons for this. It affects many people in many different ways, but we all in one way or another have that kind of up and down, if you will.
And that’s why I have found it so important for myself, and so important for my spiritual directees, that we are pretty disciplined with ourselves, pretty rigorous with ourselves, to have what some call a ‘plan of life.’ A way that we have structured our day to fulfill those things that we know God is calling us to do each and every day.
So the skeleton, if you will, the thing that makes the plan of life hold up is to have a fairly rigorous prayer schedule that one keeps to pretty much no matter what. Now, there are going to be days where you have the flu, or some emergency happens. Everyone understands that, and God understands that. But the regular, 9 days out of 10 routine plan of life where you have a structure of prayer that is there every day.
It doesn’t matter how you feel today, you do the structure of prayer. If you feel like doing it, great. It goes easily and quickly. If you don’t feel like doing it, you still do it. In fact, if you don’t feel like doing it is when you need it the most.
It takes that kind of self-discipline to say, ‘This is my routine and I’m not going to allow it to be broken, except on those occasions when there is a real emergency or illness.’
If you wait to get your act together to invite God in, it’s never going to work. I say this at Christmas time, but if I was God (and thanks be to God I am not) and I was going to be born into this world, I would have been born into the best hospital with the most anti-septic conditions, the most perfect, pristine situation. Well, God didn’t choose to do that. God came into our world in a stable.
I always say that no Christmas decorations ever recreate the original smell of Christmas. The original smell of Christmas was messy, because Jesus was born in a barn, in a stable, in a place where animals were kept. He was born into the messiness of a stable to remind us that He wants to be born into the messiness of our lives.
We often make the mistake of saying, ‘I’ve got to get my act together, then I can invite God in.’ No, it’s when my act isn’t together that inviting God in is going to help me get my act together with the Lord.”
Listen to the full conversation below: