Why is my prayer so dry?

Zurbarán St. John of the Cross.jpg

Anyone who practices mental prayer for any length of time will reach a dry period. Why does this happen? What can we do about it?

Sometimes prayer is dry because we are sick, depressed, anxious, or over-tired. In such cases, dryness is usually very temporary. A little bit of reflection can point out the reason for it. But other times, life seems to be going fine until we get to prayer. Then everything seems to fall apart.

Dryness in prayer can indicate that we’re growing closer to God, or it can indicate the opposite. How do we know if our dryness is related to spiritual growth?

St. John of the Cross is the master teacher about darkness in the spiritual life. His classic works, The Ascent of Mt. Carmel and Dark Night of the Soul talk about two periods of darkness in particular.
Many souls struggle with darkness or dryness when they are transitioning from the purgative way to the illuminative way–from St. Teresa of Avila’s third to fourth mansions. The second common darkness comes at the transition from the fifth to the sixth mansions.

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