Sometimes prayer comes easily – you feel connected to the Lord and experience a spiritual high in your devotions. But other times prayer is difficult – it feels dry and disconnected, no matter how much you try to feel otherwise.
How can we continue in prayer, even when we don’t feel anything from it? Sarah encouraged listeners by saying, “I think, first of all, you understand that it’s not necessarily because you’re doing anything wrong. This never happened to me at first, when I first became Catholic. Every Mass usually moved me to tears. Every devotion I did, every prayer that I said, I could feel the presence of God. But that kind of began to wane, a few years in. And it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong, it’s more a matter that your faith is maturing.”
Sarah admitted that she found it difficult when she no longer experienced an emotional high from her prayer, saying, “I found it really frustrating when this started to happen to me, but then I took it to my spiritual director and he set me straight, as he does with many things. He reminded me that faith is not about feelings, it’s about fidelity. It’s not about what we feel when we go to Mass, it’s that we pray even when we don’t feel like it.”
Rather than looking at prayer as a transaction, Sarah said that remembering that prayer is a relationship can help overcome times of dryness. She explained, “My spiritual director compared my relationship with God to a human relationship. You don’t always feel that rush of love and devotion for the beloved. You don’t feel the way you feel about your spouse on your wedding day throughout your entire marriage. You obviously love them, but it is just manifested differently. Your love matures, and that’s when the real work of love begins. Loving even when we don’t feel that emotional consolation of that love. So it is with God.”
So what can we do when our prayer life no longer brings that emotional consolation? Sarah said, “Prayer, even when you don’t feel like it. … It might not be fun or easy, but there is great grace in that. Try to pray in a way that you haven’t before, in a way that’s new to you. Maybe the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Liturgy of the Hours. Just something to mix it up a bit. And that’s not to do as many devotions as you can to try to recapture that emotion, but it’s more to just expand your prayer life. Even if you can’t feel it, God is always reaching back when we pray.”
Listen to the full conversation with Sarah Coffey below: