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Learning to be Scrappy in the Spiritual Life

November 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Difficulties, Humility, Prayer, Prayer Life, Trust in God, Webinar

Learning to be Scrappy in the Spiritual Life

My father was the first son of a single mom who had next to nothing. He never graduated from college but with hard work and tough lessons, he was able to retire by the age of 45.

I learned a lot from him growing up. One principle that he worked hard to teach me was to be “scrappy.” He taught me to be scrappy in life and this scrappiness has also translated well to developing a healthy prayer life. I am by no means perfect in the virtues associated with being scrappy, but I have found that to the degree that I rely upon God and pursue the principles he taught me, I have been able to make progress. What does a scrappy person look like? Here are a few characteristics translated into spiritual terms:

They are positive – Every obstacle they encounter is simply an indication that they need to find a way around that obstacle. Often obstacles indicate opposition that may reveal that they are on the right track. When they know they are opposed by the enemy of their souls, they are encouraged.

CarloDolciTheHolyFamilyWithGodTheFatherAndTheHolySpiritWGA06376They are resourceful – No matter what the obstacle, they never stand helpless but immediately begin to look for solutions. By the grace of God, they almost never fail to find solutions even if they seem to be incomplete or imperfect.

They are trusting – They know that God is in control and that every obstacle is one that is provided for their sanctification. Knowing this, they have some peace that God will help them overcome and that they will learn from their failures.

They have a long view – They know that sometimes answers don’t come in the short-term but that the most important things in life are often only attained after long toil in the right direction.

They are resilient – They never give up when it comes to the most important things in life.

They are consistent – They get up every day and engage in prayer no mater how they feel or whatever the circumstance. They recognize that God can’t help someone who refuses to engage every day.

They are humble – They are quick to seek help when they can’t seem to find a way on their own. They know they don’t know or see everything and thus regularly seek the counsel of others.

They know from whence comes their strength and salvation – they know that they are weak and incapable of making progress on their own and that the source of strength and real solutions can only come from God. They also know that God always delivers on St Michael Archangel-Angelo_Bronzino_010His promises.

Yes, prayer is a battle. Battlefields are no place for the under-committed. For those who are willing, the battle will be won because God is faithful and they are engaged.

All that said, sometimes we just don’t have the raw material from which to rely on either to get started, or get un-stuck. Being scrappy implies that we have a reasonable understanding of the domain we operate in. We know the right people, we understand the resources available to us, etc. In the realm of prayer and the interior life, most Catholics have never been given even the most basic formation regarding how to successfully navigate their interior life and grow in their relationship with God.

If you are ready to get scrappy in your prayer life, we are excited to announce a three part webinar series on prayer. Check it out here. Be scrappy, my friends, and you will know a joy and peace that you never thought possible.

Three Part Webinar Series on Prayer Photo

In each webinar, I will spend approximately an hour digging into the wisdom of the saints and revealing the secrets of those who have fought and won the battle of prayer and found the longing of their soul in intimacy with God.

The days and times of the series are as follows. Please note, if you cannot attend the webinar live, we will email you the video.

BEGINNING TO PRAY – Wisdom from the Monastic Tradition – Lectio Divina (Reading with God) and Prayer Woman in Prayer iStock_000059070360_SmallFoundations – Secrets to Success in Daily Prayer.

Date/Time: Thursday, November 19th at 8 PM Eastern / 7 PM Central

GROWING IN PRAYER – Wisdom from St. Teresa of Avila about Progress in Prayer from Challenging Beginnings to the Heights of Contemplation.

Date/Time: Thursday, December 3rd at 8 PM Eastern / 7 PM Central

DEEPER IN PRAYER – Developing a Disposition of Prayer to Guard and Nurture your Prayer Progress. Spiritual Warfare Related to Maintaining Prayer Discipline.

Date/Time: Thursday, December 10th at 8 PM Eastern / 7 PM Central

During each webinar I will also provide ample time to answer your specific questions about how you can apply what you have learned.

For this special series, we are asking for a suggested donation of $40.00 for all three. This helps us cover our costs and provide support to our mission of disseminating authentic Catholic spirituality to the faithful poor and all those that seek it.

As part of our end-of-year Avila Foundation fund drive, if you are able commit to a $40.00 monthly donation throughout 2016, you will have access to all Webinars in 2016 regardless of suggested donation. And, if you are unable to attend any or all of the Webinars offered, we will send you the link to watch or listen to it at your convenience.

Whether you can make a one time donation for this series or are able to make an annual commitment, we are grateful for your support of our world wide efforts to nourish the souls of God’s people and we look forward to serving you.



The Avila Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax deductible as allowed by law.


Art:   The Holy Family with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, Carlo Dolci, circa 1630; Fresken der Kapelle der Eleonora da Toledo im Palazzo Vecchio in Florenz, Deckenfresko, Detail: Erzengel Michael [Frescoes of the chapel of Eleonora da Toledo in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, ceiling fresco, detail: Archangel Michael], Angelo Bronzino, 1540-1541; both PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Additional Images from Dan Burke: man-rejoicing.jpg; Woman in Prayer iStock000059070360; feature image: iStock000002848630Medium.jpg, modified.

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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, and Divine Intimacy Radio, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, and his newest books Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep and Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux. 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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  • BlueMit11

    I needed this today. Thanks, Dan.

  • Bobbi jo

    Dan, thank you for this post. It totally resonated with my scriptural prayer time this morning …. Sirach 2 — and puts a fun slant on it (I love it when God is humorous). For me, this chapter in scripture talks directly to what it means to be scrappy and I’ve never seen the “blessing” before of being scrappy — thanks for letting God share that with me through your work. May the Holy Spirit continue to work through the Avila Institute and it’s subsidiaries — it has helped me greatly in strengthening my spiritual life.

    • Dan Burke


  • Warwick Onyeama

    Dan, it seems to me that this offer only applies in the US. You have stated Eastern and Central times but what about Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)? If I am not mistaken the times you have stated would mean my having to listen at two or three o’clock in the early hours of the morning. I am perfectly willing to subscribe in addition to my monthly subscription but only if an email link will be made availabe to hear the webinar at a more reasonable time for those of us in the UK.

    • Dan Burke

      Dear Warwick – this is open to the entire world! We can provide you with a link if you would prefer to sleep through the live version. Go ahead and sign up!

      • Warwick Onyeama

        Thank you Dan. Shall do. The link for elective viewing at a more convenient time would indeed be required.

  • Judy Silhan

    Each time you speak on prayer, you reveal tools that you
    have found invaluable in your own prayer life.
    Listening to you, in the different classes and webinars, has given me
    the much needed “how-to’s” for my spiritual life. Thanks for sharing your ideas on the Examen prayer last night.
    The picture of the Holy Family used with the reflection
    caught my attention. I liked the way St.
    Joseph is sitting, by the position of his hand, he seems very engaged in
    listening to Jesus, as we all should be.

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