SD6 – Dealing with Dryness in Prayer – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Dealing with Dryness in Prayer – Spiritual Desolation: Be Aware, Understand, Take Action with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

In part one of this conversation, Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor engage in a profound discussion on the nature of prayer, particularly in the context of suffering and spiritual desolation. They both point out the importance of prayer as more than just verbal communication with God, making note of its holistic nature, which involves the entire being united in love and longing for God.

Fr. Gallagher also shares examples of finding communion with God through suffering, citing St. Therese. He offers guidance from St. Ignatius to navigate spiritual desolation, encouraging listeners to embrace prayer and suffering for spiritual growth.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions:

  1. Engagement in Prayer: How do you respond when faced with obstacles in your prayer life, such as illness or physical limitations?
  2. Unifying Suffering with Prayer: In what ways can you unite your daily suffering with prayer, following the examples of St. Therese and others?
  3. Value of Small Acts of Love: Reflect on how you can incorporate small acts of pure love into your daily life, as emphasized by St. John of the Cross and St. Therese.
  4. Facing Spiritual Desolation: Have you experienced periods of spiritual desolation? How can the teachings of St. Ignatius help you navigate such times?
  5. Growth Through Challenges: Consider how both spiritual consolation and desolation contribute to your spiritual growth. How can you embrace challenges as opportunities for deeper connection with God?

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From  Setting the Captives Free: Personal Reflections on Ignatian Discernment of Spirits:

“A first form of dryness may result simply from lack of formation in prayer. Persons of good will desire to pray and make sincere attempts to do so. Because these persons, how- ever, have never received formation in prayer, they flounder, unsure of how to proceed: their prayer is dry. The need here is exposure to classic and effective forms of prayer: lectio div- ina, Ignatian meditation or imaginative contemplation, the Liturgy of the Hours, and so forth. Once these persons learn how to pray, the floundering will cease, and this form of dry- ness will be overcome.21

Dryness may also arise from negligence in the life of prayer or from an inconsistency between a person’s prayer and life. If such persons weaken in fidelity to prayer, no longer dedi- cate consistent time to it, or no longer prepare in the way they find helpful, dryness may result. Likewise, behavior contrary to the Gospel may also cause prayer to feel dry: the dishar- mony between prayer and life will render prayer more dif- ficult—more dry.22

Yet another experience of “dryness” may result from solid growth in prayer. A point may arrive when God now calls such persons to a more simplified form of prayer. The ear- lier, more active and discursive methods no longer assist as before, while the new and simpler way of praying is not yet firmly established. This is a healthy “dryness” and a sign of growth. Competent spiritual direction will greatly assist such persons to negotiate this blessed passage in prayer.”

Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

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