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Obstacles to prayer: 30 Days w/ Teresa of Avila: Day 11 Reflections

Obstacles to Prayer
30 Days with Teresa of Avila
Reflections on Day 11

Why are we tempted to stop praying, and what are the consequences of doing so? Dan and Melissa share some of St. Teresa of Avila's thoughts on these topics as documented in her letters from the book 30 Days with Teresa of Avila.

Topics/Questions covered in the show:

  • Where does the temptation to stop praying come from?30DaysWithTeresaOfAvila
  • What are the biggest obstacles to prayer and how can we overcome them?
  • How is prayer connected to our salvation?
  • The secret to perseverance in prayer – St. Teresa has some practical advice.
  • St. Teresa's experience with false humility and how it kept her from prayer.
  • What are the benefits of keeping a daily prayer routine?



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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Jeanette

    When we try to pray and we are discouraged because we don’t seem to be praying as we ought to or that it seems we are tongue-tied and don’t know what to say, we need to remember that God looks at the intention of our hearts and our perseverance. The following scripture verse is very reassuring and helps with discouragement: Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. Douay-Rheims Bible

  • Judy Silhan

    As a student at the Avila Institute, I learned the importance of a disciplined prayer life. However, I also learned the importance of saying yes to God when I was asked to do different things in and for the Church. What I did not learn (Perhaps I did not hear.) was that Satan can and will use this eagerness to pray and serve our Lord to lead one away from Him. After many months of being disciplined about rising early to allow for prayer and the Liturgy of the Hours and then leaving to attend and serve at Mass, I agreed to commitments which have lead to many late nights. Rising at 5:00 a.m. to start my day with our Lord in prayer became too difficult a couple of months ago. The temptation to stop what I had been doing so diligently for over a year, including daily Mass, was well prepared by Satan.
    Sadly, results of this temptation to stop my disciplined prayer life,were: fits of anger, including the use of profanity which I have never used, especially near the Sanctuary, doubts or thoughts of – this can’t be real, it’s too well orchestrated, etc. when reading Scripture, spiritual reading, even when praying the Liturgy of the Hours later in the day or when attending Mass. During Adoration and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament a few days ago, these thoughts prevailed. In desperation, I even began reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s testimony of going from Atheist to Catholic.
    So, Dan, today, your program topic definitely hit home. I was told yesterday, by a priest I know that God does want me to say yes to Him, but not to the extent that He is excluded, that exhaustion is also a tool of Satan which he was using, and thus all the distorted thinking.
    So, as you said, or as St. Theresa of Avila said, if one does not pray, they are destined for Hell, which is not my desire. I am resuming the discipline I learned from you in Navigating the Interior Life, as well as curtailing commitments which prevent me from doing so, including daily Mass.

  • Paul

    On of the aspect I love about the Catholic Church is Her reason and logic. Having gone through these moments, since my reversion 3 years ago, when it all starts to seem unreal and made up because the emptiness is so extreme, I have nearly given back into the despair a couple of times. In those instances, the demon harassment that happened to me and my family lives through and the beautiful moments where Mary and St. Joesph spoke to my heart to redirect my course proper, became all but distant memories. The very things that helped reassure me that I was heading in the right direction became as if they had never really happened. They were just dreams in my head. They became lies, and pray was hollow. Either I had pulled away from God or He had pulled away from me and the longer it went on the more I began to disbelieve. So I retraced my steps to what brought me into the faith in the first place. Reason and Logic. Deduction and process of elimination. “Eliminate the impossible, and whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth” Sherlock Holmes. When I re-deduced God existence, sin, the devil, Jesus, and so forth, then the emptiness made reasonable sense. It didn’t change, but it made sense. And I knew that logically I needed to trust and have “illogical” faith. It’s not usually too long before God starts letting me feel His presence again, but right now I’m kind of in the place that this show and your previous one are talking about. This whole series has been wonderful, but I’ve especially love the last two. Great timing for where I’m at. But I have no doubt that, even if He were to never speak to me again, He’s on the other end of the line somewhere. And listening to elevator music while I’m sitting on hold is way better than hanging up the phone again. The broken silence becomes so beautiful and breath taking once He takes you off hold… and calls you by name.

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